The Paying Guests

Waters, Sarah

Published by Virago Press Ltd, 2015
ISBN 10: 0349004609 / ISBN 13: 9780349004600
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Synopsis: There came the splash of water and the rub of heels as Mrs Barber stepped into the tub. After that there was a silence, broken only by the occasional echoey plink of drips from the tap. Frances had been picturing her lodgers in purely mercenary terms - as something like two great waddling shillings. But this, she thought, was what it really meant to have paying guests: this odd, unintimate proximity, this rather peeled-back moment, where the only thing between herself and a naked Mrs Barber was a few feet of kitchen and a thin scullery door. An image sprang into her head: that round flesh, crimsoning in the heat.

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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

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Title: The Paying Guests
Publisher: Virago Press Ltd
Publication Date: 2015
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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Waters, Sarah
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