THE LITTLE STRANGER by Sarah Waters is about that and much more. This Gothic story takes place in the countryside of England back in the 1930's, and the house, known as Hundreds Hall, has been in the Ayres' family for many generations. The hardships of the war have left its toll on the family and Hundreds. Many of the rooms in the old grand house have long since been closed off and are unused. Though the family is still looked at with much respect from the community, it is obvious that Hundreds Hall does not show the same grandeur it once did. The Ayres' only employee two servants - one full time to assist the remaining three family members. Here's a synopsis from Goodreads:
The Little Stranger follows the strange adventures of Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor. One dusty postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, he is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for more than 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 ominous 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.
I became engrossed in this book moments after I began reading. I loved the setting and the time period of the 30's. Dr. Faraday does a terrific job of telling this story of what happened in his life during the years he was the primary physician to the Ayres family. He paints a vivid, yet haunting picture of Hundreds Hall and the family living within. He is very detailed in his account and some might say too detailed. It does make for a long story, but in my opinion, it was worth the time. Through Dr. Faraday I was able to get an in depth knowledge of life at Hundreds Hall.
The characters Ms. Waters created were so unique and perfectly crafted and developed all the way down to the young maid, Betty, who worked in the Hall. The supporting characters were equally as believable and interesting as the main characters and added to the twists and turns of the story.
The Gothic tone of the book along with its paranormal effects reminded me of one of my favorite books, THE THIRTEENTH TALE, which I loved. THE LITTLE STRANGER constantly left me guessing and wondering what could possibly happen next. The strange occurrences were just enough to give off that haunting feel without going too over the top. The relationship between Caroline Ayres and Dr. Faraday developed so slowly and naturally that nearing the end I was surprised how much I really wanted to see the two of them together. The author cleverly left me hopeful that something may happen between them at any moment. That anticipation added to the mystique, in my opinion.
This was my first foray into Sarah Waters' work and I was completely satisfied with it. It is a bit wordy, but honestly, that really didn't bother me because I was enjoying the story. I would recommend THE LITTLE STRANGER to readers who enjoy a book that develops slowly while leading you on a mysterious journey.
THE LITTLE STRANGER
Author: Sarah Waters
Publisher: Penguin Publishing
Published: April 30, 2009
Length/Pages: 716 KB/480 printed pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars