May 16, 2009

The Little Stranger

The Little Stranger
Sarah Waters


(May 16, 2009)

The author of Fingersmith, Tipping The Velvet, and The Night Watch takes on a ghost story. We have a decaying family, once prominent and wealthy; indeed, the narrator’s mother was briefly a servant in their nursery. The narrator himself, a Dr. Faraday, has grown up to be a country doctor, though it’s 1947 or 1948, and he fears that the coming reorganization of British health care will destroy his tenuous practice. He is summoned to examine a housemaid – the last servant in the ruinous mansion – and by degrees is ensnared in the peculiar story of this most peculiar family and their strange, deteriorating house. Waters is always admirable, though her tales always unfold with stately, almost painful, gradualness.