Summer books, featuring John Gray, Julie Myerson, Mark Thompson & othersby prospect / July 23, 2009 / Leave a comment
Published in August 2009 issue of Prospect Magazine
FICTION recommended by Julie Myerson
The Little Stranger
by Sarah Waters (Virago, £16.99)
The novel that has given me the most pleasure so far this year is, without question, Sarah Waters’s The Little Stranger. Set in a huge, decaying country house just after the second world war, it appears to unfold as a ghost story but, like the very best tales of hauntings, its most chilling aspects are the human ones. Money, class, emotional and sexual repression—and people’s uneasy relationships with buildings and their histories—are its real themes, and Waters handles them with a restraint that feels alternately thrilling and sinister. But what I admire most is that, without resorting to annoying tricks, she makes the entire novel change shape and texture so convincingly as it progresses that you, the reader, start to question your own responses. As its grim conclusion began to dawn on me—at exactly the right moment—I felt entertained and terrified, but also somehow altered by what I’d read.