The Paying Guests - Sarah Waters

The Paying Guests

By Sarah Waters

  • Release Date: 2014-09-16
  • Genre: Historical
Score: 4
4
From 443 Ratings

Description

The New York Times bestselling novel that has been called “a tour de force” (Wall Street Journal), “unputdownable” (The Washington Post), “a delicious hothouse of a novel” (USA Today), “effortless” (The Economist), “seductive” (Vanity Fair) and “pitch perfect” (Salon)
 
“Superb, bewitching…Forget about Fifty Shades of Grey; this novel is one of the most sensual you will ever read, and all without sacrificing either good taste or a "G" rating” – NPR
 
“One of the year’s most engrossing and suspenseful novels…a love affair, a shocking murder, and a flawless ending … Will keep you sleepless for three nights straight and leave you grasping for another book that can sustain that high.” — Entertainment Weekly (A rating)

Volcanically sexy, sizzingly smart, plenty bloody and just plain irresistible." —USA Today (4 stars)

It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa—a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants—life is about to be transformed as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.

With the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the “clerk class,” the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. Little do the Wrays know just how profoundly their new tenants will alter the course of Frances’s life—or, as passions mount and frustration gathers, how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be.

Short-listed for the Man Booker Prize three times, Sarah Waters has earned a reputation as one of our greatest writers of historical fiction, and here she has delivered again. A love story, a tension-filled crime story, and a beautifully atmospheric portrait of a fascinating time and place, The Paying Guests is Sarah Waters’s finest achievement yet.

Reviews

  • Some slow bits

    4
    By Piggle2303
    There was so much fabulous detail in this book, but sometimes, I felt like it slowed things down quite a bit. The pacing was overall a little weird. Slow at first, escalates quickly, Then is drawn out to a conclusion that wasn’t passionate enough for me.
  • Another solid novel from Waters

    4
    By archetype67
    Another great novel from Waters. This time around, set in the time after the first World War, it delves into the issues of class and how the war changed that. Frances and her mother are living in a home that can't afford after the death of Francis' brother in the war, then her father. Francis has no illusions of her life and has settled into her spinsterhood. To help pay the bills, they take in a young married couple - a young man of the new 'clerk' class and his wife, Lilly. The couple are not happy, and Francis and Lilly develop a relationship that will be tested by a moment of anger that changes everything. Waters does a great job portraying the time-period and the differences and tensions between the classes, as well as exploring what it means to step outside of those structures. Waters creates a world and inhabits it with characters that are multi-dimensional. Francis is a lesbian, but that isn't the focus of the novel - this isn't a coming out story or the story of how her preference makes her an outsider or moves the plot. This novel is about the choices people make and what they will do to secure happiness. The one flaw I had with the book was that at times, Waters was a bit repetitive and overwriting. I think the book could have been trimmed by 75 pages and not lost anything - perhaps even gained by tightening it and upping the tension. For those familiar with Waters' other books, it will keep you guessing and waiting for the twist.
  • Beautiful Love Story, Heart Racing Plot

    5
    By coconut Jones
    All of Sarah Waters's books are ingenious, but The Paying Guests wins the title for most compelling love story of all her novels. Frances is an incredible character; mature and stubborn, solid as a rock, with a vicious wit. The affair is beautifully woven; the connection between the characters is so real, it's almost normal - but it's all the more breathtakingly sensual because of it. As usual, Sarah Waters does an incredible job bringing the time period to life, immersing the reader in the social change occurring right after the war. Highly recommended - this book will forever be a favorite of mine.
  • Slow start, but gained momentum

    3
    By Diane in Cinci
    Part One felt too long, but the novel became more compelling in Part Two. Fun to read about a different time and place, though in the end I didn't care a great deal about the characters.
  • Very palpable

    4
    By Candi225
    I am a big fan of Ms. Waters because of her brilliant character development. You feel you could touch them, that you even personally know them at the end of the story. Almost like they are now friends whom you must forever say goodbye to. She again spins a brilliant story of loss which wraps arounds the confines in which women had to live post WWI. I really found this a great read though The Little Stranger remains my favorite of her works.
  • Not bad enough to stop reading

    3
    By IN1959
    Illicit live affair with moral ramifications in multiple directions. Distracting long descriptive paragraphs that delete the book
  • The Paying Guests

    5
    By FrDrFaustus
    I agree with other reviewers that the book is slow at times, but it gets rather fast at other times, and in hindsight the changes in pace make the story much more believable (real life does not progress at a single speed either). The book gives a fascinating glimpse of circumstances and societal currents of postwar England, all delivered with masterful prose and attention to detail. Drama and angst fly high indeed but are completely believable. After a certain point, I could not put the book down anymore. And in the end, I was exhausted but elated by this true work of art.
  • The Paying Guests

    5
    By JLeavesley29
    Great story, a real page turner!
  • Treacle

    1
    By jscann
    I always thought Waters was playing with melodrama, but this novel is utter schlock.
  • The Paying Guests

    3
    By mmbiba
    While an interesting story, there is way too much drama and angst especially from Frances. It made the book a bit plodding.