An Old Fashioned Ghost Story

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The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters is the kind of ghost story that fans of Henry James and Shirley Jackson wish there were more of. The horror is subtle and psychological, not explicitly gruesome. The place is Warwickshire England and the time is shortly after WWII. The narrator, a local physician, is called to treat one of the maids at the home of an upper class family whose fortunes are in decline. Awed by the family's wealth as a child, the doctor is now taken aback to see how much things have deteriorated. The once grand house is crumbling and in need of repair, it's inhabitants' money almost gone.

The doctor finds himself paying frequent visits to the household and getting involved in the lives of the family members. He develops a romantic interest in the unattractive spinster sister who is just barely keeping the family finances together. As strange, inexplicable things begin to happen in the house, the doctor becomes obsessed with getting to the bottom of them.

Although the pace of the narrative is leisurely, the story is gripping. Keep reading at least until you reach the part where the child is bitten by a dog--after that you will not be able to put the book down. Not just a ghost story, this is also an examination of England's class system, as well as a perceptive character study. The chilling ending took me completely by surprise, and had me wanting to reread the entire book in search of clues.

Submitted by Mary @ Forest Home

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This page contains a single entry by Jacki published on March 2, 2011 8:05 AM.

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