Tuesday, December 22, 2009
The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters
If you like a well-written ghost story, The Little Stranger might be your cup o’ tea. All the familiar elements are in play here: the ruined mansion, hints of hereditary insanity, emotional extremes, ghost/demons/poltergeists, imagination versus fantasy. The genre is woven into the setting of England in the late 1940’s just after the war. So we have a relatively recent historical period with modern sensibilities but with characters who can’t quite accept the rapid changes in society. The real charm of the novel rests with Waters’ portrayal of the once magnificent mansion, Hundreds Hall, as metaphorical evidence of the psychologically deteriorating lives of its owners. I could have done with fewer ghost sightings and rumblings but in spite of that I enjoyed this view of England from the historical and social slant. If you take the first sip, I’ll bet you’ll swallow the whole cup.