What a wonderful book this is! A compelling, satisfying, gripping, intelligent and complete read. It, once again, proved to me that despite the distractions offered by technology there is little that can beat a good story to help pass the time. And while I love all forms of storytelling be they told by television, radio, film, music and occasionally through social media – there is the greatest sense of involvement in a story read by you in a book. The characters are interpreted by you, you put the intonation into the characters’ words, you imagine their glances and the meaning behind their sighs. you work harder at the story but for that, you are so rewarded.
This was my first encounter with the writing of Sarah Waters, she was recommended to me by Rachael King (whose excellent second novel, Magpie Hall, evokes similar sorts of imaginings in the reader as this one). What is this - a historical, a literary or a ghost story? All and none - like all good books it defies genres.
Like Wuthering Heights and Magpie Hall the house where most of the action happens (where supposedly the little stranger resides), is a major character in the book. Also like Wuthering Heights our narrator is a plain fellow who’s observational powers the reader doesn’t necessarily trust. But how clever is that! To trust your reader not to trust your narrator! A certain mastery of narrative and language is required to pull that off which Waters does brilliantly.
Oh it was so good I’m off to have a good glass of red wine and a big think about it. And hopefully when I come back I’ll have calmed down enough to talk more about the plot and use fewer italics to express myself.