A ghost story from one of Britain's finest and best-loved writers. After her award-winning trilogy of Victorian novels, Sarah Waters turned to the 1940s and wrote The Night Watch, a tender and tragic novel set against the backdrop of wartime Britain. Shortlisted for both the Orange and the Man Booker, it went straight to number-one in the bestseller chart.
In a dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become entwined with his.
Prepare yourself. From this wonderful writer who continues to astonish us, now comes a chilling ghost story.
©2009 Sarah Waters; (P)2009 Penguin Audio
The author does well to capture the image of a post-war English countryside. Simon Vance's narration is more than decent. I found the plot a bit dull and predictible however. The one thing that surprised me was... the anticlimactic ending. Not being an enthusiast of the genre I can think of only one more reason to recommend this book; it is an easy listen, ideal for when driving a car.
The Little Stranger is perfect for audio. Set in the coutryside of post war Britain, a country doctor grapples with the problems of a poverty stricken gentry family and the mysteries lurking within their crumbling family home.The book is engaging, entertaining and beautifully narrated.
The Little Stranger, a Booker shortlist, is told by one Dr. Faraday, a medical doctor of limited success -- for which he blames his humble background and lack of connections -- and anxious about his prospects in post-war England. Throughout the story we encounter his class resentment. Faraday is both reverent and envious of the Ayers, a grand family now in decline, whom he befriends. Midway through the novel we begin to suspect that he could unreliable, and his narration could be self-serving.
The novel is marketed as a ghost story, but I think one may also read it as a mystery novel, as I did. The story lacks the tricks and plot twists that so captivated me in Sarah Water's earlier novel, Fingersmith; nonetheless, I was hooked almost from the word go.
Simon Vance's narration was almost perfect, and makes this a five star listen instead of four.
"A subtle ghost story"
A subtle ghost story, and all the more believable as the story is told through a character on the periphery of what was happening. Beautifully done, and the complex intertwining of the characters and the house itself builds up a rich atmosphere, which Sarah Waters does so well. Personally I enjoyed the fact that the ending was not cut-and-dried and left you wondering.......
I must admit when I first read the blurb I was a little disappointed that the author had stayed away from the Victorian era, but with her usual skill she has ended up interesting me just as much in the post-war period and the social adjustments that went on at that time instead!
Very well narrated - with the Warwickshire accent not sounding like a parody - quite a feat!
You won't find any of the twists and riddles that inhabit Waters' earlier works. Nor, for that matter, the lesbian overtones. But I think "The Little Stranger", like "The Night Watch", is a much greater achievement as a result.
Waters is a consummate writer, in this novel displaying such mastery and maturity that she must surely be counted amongst very highest ranking British novelists. Indeed, I can think of no one I would rather read. Whatever her subject, she describes character, scenes and events with such economy and precision that must leave other writers almost wretched with envy. Indeed, I have never known her put a foot wrong; never a moment of pretentiousness, or boredom, or redundancy.
"The Little Stranger" boasts a pace and atmosphere so chilling that I actually got the shivers while weeding the garden. Not many works of fiction can achieve that on a warm, sunny day.
It is also beautifully read. The narrator has the perfect voice, accent and inflection for the novel's period, and was a joy to listen to. Indeed, if I had to choose one work to illustrate the sheer pleasure of listening to an unabridged novel, it would be this one.
Could hardly turn it off. Slow-paced and relentless, but kept surprising me with the twists it took. Lots of nice, subtle detail, classy foreshadowing, sly hints dropped gracefully while you're looking the other way. Days after finishing it, I'm still not entirely sure what happened. Oh, and don't listen in the dark.
The book is excellent - as many of the reviews on Amazon testify. Even more so, the narration is superb. I was a little uneasy initially with the (always difficult) approach of a male narrator to older and younger female voices, but after a few minutes all concerns were dispelled. I'll now look out books by the same narrator.
I've listened with pleasure to this book. Simon Vance does an excellent job, capturing every nuance of the writing. The pace is perfect, and the story doesn't linger on too many details, yet enough to create the atmosphere and paint great pictures in the listener's mind. I didn't give it more stars because I found it a tad repetitive and I wouldn't say this is one of the best books I've listened to. Still, it has kept me company and has made me think about what was happening after the war. I wouldn't really say it's a ghost story though, although that's definitely a strong theme in the book, maybe because the main character is always 'outside' the events, which happen around him but never 'to' him, so you just never know what the truth is. In that respect though, it strikes me as a realistic story, compared to other, more overt ghost stories.
"Sad and creepy"
I chose this because I had enjoyed 'The Night Watch' but in fact I think this was better - there were fewer characters and it didn't have that distracting reverse timeline. Not having read the blurb I didn't realise it was a ghost story, which was good, because I approached all the creepy happenings with Dr Faraday's scepticism....until near the end. Although the pace is slow, the story is beautifully told, and I was gripped throughout. I was listening to it while gardening. I enjoyed the descriptions of a country house literally falling to pieces around its inhabitants, and the very convincing 1940s atmosphere - how all the doctors smoke - and offer cigarettes to their patients! Those were the days, eh?
"Didn't come to the boil?"
Slow getting going and times frustrating but the spooky bits are wonderful but never seem to come to the boil so to speak and I would have preferred to have had a slightly more defined ending and kept expecting it to reach more of a climax than it did. Left guessing at the end which is good - maybe I missed something and I may listen again to catch anything subtle that passed me by. Wouldn't put anyone else off listening as not all ghost stories need to be 'in your face' but this wasn't as good as I expected. Reading good and not at all offputting - fitted the characters and scenarios well. The spooky bits are subtle but very good - as someone else said - don't read in the dark (or late at night)..............
"A little too slow-paced for this listener"
Good narration and scene-setting but I kept wondering when it was going to become particularly interesting. Post-war rural Warwickshire is an intriguing location for the setting and the description of what, presumably, is just pre-NHS times made me think about medical services in fairly recent times.
"The Little Stranger"
I bought this because I have previously enjoyed Sarah Water's books. However this book, although well written and well read, is difficult to enjoy because it lacks humour and happiness. Its characters are not particularly likeable and the story charts a series of tragic and unhappy events with no light intervals. This is undoubtedly high quality literature but not a pleasure giving read - for me anyway.
"How can I top this?"
The Little Stranger was my first Audible download. It was so absorbing that it only took me a week to finish. Any excuse and I drove for miles, hoping to get stuck in traffic so I could get in half and hour here and there - luckily the North Circular always obliged. This ticked all the boxes for me (strong plot, sense of place, great characterisation). It's an old-fashioned ghost story, set in a still class-ridden post-war world of upstairs and downstairs. The family doctor is of sceptical mind to all the strange things that happen in the house, so is perfect as the narrator. The setting, Hundreds Hall, which is the star of the show, is described so beautifully I could see it in my mind's eye, both in happier times and in its declining years. Mr Vance does a wonderful job of reading the book, the voices are pitch perfect, the quavering mother, the drawling toff son, the fourteen year old serving girl. It was all such a treat I just don't know how I'm going to replicate the experience with another book.
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