Publisher: Riverhead Trade
Dr. Faraday is called out to Hundreds Hall to aid a sick housekeeper named Betty. Upon arrival he meets the war wounded Roderick and his homely sister Caroline. After treating Betty, he takes tea with the siblings and the matriarch of the family, Mrs. Ayres. The house, while once glorious, has fallen on hard times. This chance meeting is the beginning of a budding relationship between Faraday and the Ayres family. And sets off a course of events that none of them is prepared for.
I realize that is a bit vague, but to go any further would require me to give some spoilers and I don’t want to do that.
I bought this book off a recommendation from a bookseller at Rainy Day Books. I mentioned that I’d read The Thirteenth Tale and was looking for something similar. This is what they chose. That was over a year ago.
It sat on one of my many TBR piles until a couple of weeks ago. I’d watched all of the Downton Abbey episodes and wanted something to help ease my pain. Why not choose a novel that takes place mainly in a big, rambling English manor?
I really enjoyed The Little Stranger. It had mystery, intrigue, a touch of the gothic, a lot of interesting and complex characters (the main one being Hundreds Hall itself) as well as just enough secrets to keep you going forth. I appreciated the way the various relationships developed, hesitant at first and then more informal as they progressed. The way the characters interacted was intriguing. Betty, the housekeeper, is the only servant at this point. They do have a day lady, Mrs. Bazely that comes, but it’s obvious they can’t afford much else. The two servants play minor roles for the most part, but Betty becomes more central as the story progresses.
But of course the house is the best part. You get descriptions of it in its heyday right next to those of it in decline. You can imagine how formal and extravagant it had been. And you feel sadness at its demise. Waters does a fantastic job of writing the character of Hundreds Hall.
I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.
Have any great gothic suggestions? And how much do you love Downton Abbey? Oh, Anna and Mr. Bates…