Dr Faraday is a youngish man living in England in the 1940s. He is a product of the working class but quickly becomes involved with Ayres family, who are members of the upper echelons of society. During Faraday’s youth, the Ayres’ mansion, Hundreds Hall, had been swathed in lush opulence, but by this time WWII had just ended and Hundreds had fallen into disrepair. The Ayres family now only consisted of Mrs Ayres and her adult children Roderick and Caroline. Their money is gone and they are struggling to keep Hundreds livable. Gone are the days of numerous servants and swanky parties.
Roderick is the head of the family, as the only man, and the pressure is quickly enveloping him. This, coupled with the significant injuries he sustained during the war quickly overcome him. Faraday is initially in the home constantly because he becomes Roderick’s primary physician. Unfortunately, Roderick’s issues become significant enough that he has to be sent away from Hundreds. His absence does not cause Faraday’s visits to cease, and his relationship with the two Ayres women continues to grow.
Hundreds is a big part of the story. It sets the Gothic mood and becomes almost like a character in the book. The focus of the book is often on Hundreds and the effect it has on the occupants living there. Is it haunted? Is there a presence in the house? The descriptions of the home and its facade are so in depth and picturesque that it makes up a large part of The Little Stranger.
Waters is one of my favorite authors. I think she weaves together such great story lines that are believable and atmospheric. I was a tad bit skeptical before even starting this book because I had only read Waters’ books that are set in Victorian London. The time period of the 1940s had me a bit concerned that this book wouldn’t have the same sense of atmosphere that I love in her other books. But I don’t even think that was my problem.
I didn’t love this book. It was good. I am glad I read it. But I just didn’t enjoy it in the way I enjoyed her other books. I know I am in the minority on this one, but I just felt bored. The strong plot was definitely not there. Waters’s books tend to be fairly long, hovering at about 500+ pages. That hadn’t been a problem for me previously, but it was this time. Because the plot wasn’t fast paced, I think the book as a whole could have benefited from editing. A lot of it.
There were so many moments of this book that I enjoyed, but those sections were overshadowed by the long periods where nothing was happening. I think that for those readers who are more appreciative of a well written story that is bigger on description than actual story, this will be a better fit for you. Not to mention that I seem to be the only one who wasn’t head over heels for this book. It has been overwhelmingly popular.
I purchased this book from a local book store.
This book counts towards the RIP challenge.