The Paying Guests

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9780349004365: The Paying Guests

"A triumph: spellbinding, profound and almost problematically addictive.... Morally complex, atmospheric, romantic and psychologically deep, The Paying Guests is an astonishing achievement and a notable Booker omission." --Daily Express (UK)

     The year is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned, the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. In South London, in a large silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants, life is about to be transformed, as Mrs. Wray and her daughter Frances are obliged to take in lodgers.
     With the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, the routines of the house and the lives of its inhabitants will be shaken up in unexpected ways. And as passions mount and frustration gathers, no one can foresee just how far, and how devastatingly, the disturbances will reach.
     In this psychological and dramatic tour-de-force, beloved international bestseller Sarah Waters proves once again that her eye for the telling details of class and character that draw people together as well as tear them apart is second to none.

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Review:

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, September 2014: It is 1922, in a genteel house in a genteel neighborhood just outside of London. Here, the widowed Mrs. Wray and her 26-year-old daughter, Frances, pass each day very much like the day before—with Frances busying herself with household chores, maybe a bit of needlepoint, and her mother nibbling on a lunch of cauliflower cheese while making notes for the parish newsletter. In less skilled hands, such prolonged stage-setting would test even the most patient reader. But in Waters’, it’s mesmerizing, with every small but evocative detail serving to transport you further into this place and time. Take a deep breath as you’re reading, because as soon as you are you lulled into the calm cadence of these lives, the Wray’s tenants—the “paying guests” they have taken in to help with the bills—turn everything topsy-turvy, and by the novel’s conclusion, you have gone from straight-up period piece, to love story, to edge-of-your-seat crime thriller (and not the American kind “with a plot full of holes” that the Wrays suffer through on picture-house Wednesdays). For a story set just after WWI, some of the themes Waters touches on are surprisingly contemporary. History does repeat itself sometimes, and so it goes for Sarah Waters, with yet another masterful novel. –Erin Kodicek

About the Author:

SARAH WATERS was born in Wales in 1966 and lives in London. She has a Ph.D. in English Literature and has lectured for the Open University. Waters is the author of five previous novels. Tipping The Velvet won the Betty Trask Award and Affinity won the Somerset Maugham Award and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award. Fingersmith was shortlisted for both the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize, and won the CWA Historical Dagger prize before earning Waters three 2003 Author of the Year awards. The Night Watch was shortlisted for both the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize. The Little Stranger was published to rave reviews around the world, was an immediate bestseller in Canada and the UK, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Visit her at www.sarahwaters.com.

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