the next good book

The Paying Guests

By Sarah Waters


564 pages

What’s it about? This novel takes place in London in 1922.  The First World War is over and London is still reeling from the deaths of so many young men.  In this atmosphere, Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter Frances must take in boarders to make ends meet.  Nothing will be the same after Mr. and Mrs. Barber move into the house. What did it make me think about? The historical time period was interesting.  You forget how many freedoms we now enjoy that men (and especially women) did not enjoy in 1922. Should I read it? I enjoyed this book but thought it was a little wordy at times.  Much like “The Goldfinch”,  I felt like the book would have been better had they cut out about 50 pages.  Having said that, it was a totally unexpected story.  Some will love it and some will not. None of the characters were particularly likable and that is an obstacle for me.  Because of that, I enjoyed it but did not love it. Quote- “Like the parted kimono, the sounds were unsettling; the silence was most unsettling of all.  Sitting at her bureau a short time before, Frances had been picturing her lodgers in purely mercenary terms- as something like two great waddling shillings.  But this, she thought, shuffling backward over the tiles, this what it really meant to have lodgers: this odd, unintimate proximity, this rather peeled-back moment, where the only thing between herself and Mrs. Barber was a few feet of kitchen and a thin scullery door.”

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