Monday, 31 October 2011

Halloween Special: The Little Stranger


I'm always on the look-out for new books to read. And as you may recall I LOVE a good ghost story. Especially now that the evenings are getting darker and colder, there's nothing like snuggling up to a good, shivers-down-your-spine kind of book. Apart from snuggling up to a good man that is. Who should also be of the shivers-down-spine variety, but in a different way. You catch my drift.

Because of my love of a nice chilling tale I was elated to find a recommendation for Sarah Waters' book 'The Little Stranger' on Paula's blog. As I was unfamiliar with the author and her work (which I'm now willing to admit is gross negligence on my part), I would have completely missed this book otherwise. And that would have been a great pity, as I find Sarah Waters does know how to tell a story. The kind that draws you in and stays with you long after you've put the book down.

The Little Stranger is set in rural Warwickshire in the period after WWII. A country doctor is called to Hundreds Hall, the estate of the Ayres family, to tend to a servant. This visit marks the beginning of a  friendship between the lonely doctor, whose own mother was at one time a maid at Hundreds, and the once grand but now impoverished Ayreses. Still, the difference in class is never quite forgotten - by either party. Then eerie things start to happen at the Hall, ever increasing in magnitude and (pause for dramatic effect) malevolence.



This is truly a gripping tale, that leaves you feeling somewhat unsettled. Even though its main characters are not always likeable, you can't help but feel for them. Each one of them is in his or her own way struggling with feelings of loneliness and the seeming hopelessness of their situation. In all, this is so much more than 'just' a ghost story. And I didn't suspect the answer to the mystery till relatively late in the book - whereas I can usually tell how a plot will turn out from miles away (she says smugly). There are some parallels with the Turn of the Screw, where you are made to wonder how much is actually only going on in the head of the governess. The Little Stranger does provide a clear answer to that question in the end.

Although I had been warned this story could become quite unnerving, I blissfully ignored the heads up - as you would have guessed - and only started reading it at 10 PM the day it came in. And found that I couldn't put it down till I really had to get me some sleep - at about 2 AM. By which time things in the book had gotten rather spooky. So spooky in fact that I started hearing every little sound in the house after I turned out the light. If ever that happens to you - I've got the answer.

Head over to YouTube and watch this clip of Billy Connolly and his take on hauntings. I'm telling you, you cannot still be spooked after watching this. A word of warning to those unfamiliar with the Big Yin: he does have a certain fondness for strong language. That is a euphemism, yes. Well spotted.





I do so adore him.  

19 comments:

  1. Hehehe - I guess this is not a book I should read... (think back to when I was over at your place and you told me that spooky story about this banshee-type character... Remember me settling deeper and deeper into your sofa? ...nuff said... I won't be reading this book :-)) But I do love your posts ;-) xoxo

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  2. I'm back!! This is definitely a book I should read. I LOVE spooky books and spooky movies. Nothing like a good fright to get the blood flowing and the brain firing up! Haha. I don't like horror movies with lots of blood and guts though... I think that's just overkill. Spooky though... creepy, mysterious, things that go bump in the night... LOVE IT!! I'll definitely have to put this book on my list. It's always good to find a new author to enjoy.

    Linda. xox

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  3. Hehehe - yeah, the Gwrach-y-Rhibyn really got to you didn't she Fab!! Mind you - you weren't there at the spot where she is said to rise out of the waters. In the dark. With all the creaking sounds. And the strange shades on the path... ;-D

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  4. Welcome back Linda!! Hope you won't need to recuperate for a week! ;-)

    Now why am I not surprised you have 'a thing' for a good ghost story?? I'm with you on the whole blood and gore thing 100% - NOT my thing. Did you see the film 'the others' with Nicole Kidman a while back? Now that was a good ghost story. Without blood or walking decaying corpses.

    This book is a really good read, but I'm reading one now that appeals to my love of ghostly tales even more - so far. I'll let you know which one it is after I finish it and give it my stamp of approval!

    When's your next post due?

    xox
    Sas

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  5. in wintertime I usually switch into "victorian mode". I have no idea why, but I've been like that since I was a little girl. I just HAVE to read something about '800. Being an Apple fanatic I'm reading Steve Jobs' biography (with is very inspiring) so I feel like I am cheating on myself...but I already have a couple of good classics waiting for me.

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  6. p.s.
    where do you buy your english books? I buy mine from Amazon or Book Depository. Have you got some more sites suggestion?

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  7. Oh, I know what you mean Bobbi - somehow when the weather gets colder, it makes you want to read stories of a bygone age - somehow the nostalgia matches this season! I've got some great classics waiting for me too - looking forward to it, but wish I could borrow one of your cats to snuggle up with while I read! ;-)

    I usually buy my books at Bol.com, they have a really good range of English books. And if I can't find the book I want at their site, then I buy at Amazon or at Alibris. But try Bol (I guess for Italy it would be Bol.it?), they are really good!

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  8. Hi Sacha - I'm so glad you liked The Little Stranger! I've started giving it out as birthday presents, and I'm sure it'll make it onto my Christmas present list too. I really think Sarah Waters is amazing. Look forward to finding out what you're reading now! Paula x x x

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  9. Hi Paula!

    Yes, I do look forward to reading more from Sarah Waters - I thought The Little Stranger was just beautifully paced and the characters really came to life for me. And the suspense was very real! I'll make sure to post about my current read - look forward to finding out about what you'll be reading next (and the other projects too obviously! I might badger you for your jam recipe!) ;-) xx

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  10. Should be a film of the book coming, the film rights have been optioned to a production company in London ;)

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  11. OOOooooooo you're kidding!!

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  12. errr..yes Si - you would :-)))

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  13. hahahahahaha you know me too well Fab :-))

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  14. I use bol, but only for books in Italian. For books in english Book Dep. or Amazon is cheaper. I have bought for so many years at Bol that I often have free books!!

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  15. Free books? FREE BOOKS?? I've been buying from the Dutch Bol for years and all I've ever had as a freebie was no delivery charges! No fair...
    Funny though, for us Bol is mostly cheaper than Amazon when buying English books - especially considering delivery costs. Must make a comparison more often maybe! ;-)

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  16. Oh and Si: by now we can read you like a newspaper... I mean that lovingly of course!
    ;-D

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  17. Eh,eh...I can see Me(lissa) commented...
    As her I get free books from bol. Maybe even more than she gets, because I've been using it for a longer time! I should actually get money from them, since I've got them SO many new customers over the years (Melissa included) (and my mom!!) . But yes it's true, for english books or cds Amazon uk is cheaper, but I think it's just an italian thing. I buy tons of cds from Amazon (no freebies there) and most of the time two cds and shipping costs included is cheaper than one cd in Italy.

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  18. Oh really? Then I suppose our Bol is a lot cheaper than the Italian one - even if we don't get free books. I'm still a bit miffed about that - I have made them so much profit they owe me a couple of good books at the very least! ;-)

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