39—The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

Sarah Waters weaves, slowly and deliberately, a tale of unrequited, love, lost souls, a ghost, and unremarkable other characters. But she weaves this tale with such finesse and enough suspense to draw in the reader, making her always to want to know what comes next; enticing her to find out more.

In 1940's England, Hundreds Hall is the home of the Ayres family, an old, moneyed family whose wealth is no more. Hundreds is imposing, grandiose, and in a state of great disrepair. When the story opens Dr. Faraday is called out to hundreds to treat Betty, a young servant girl. It's her first day on the job and she is frightened and unsure of herself. She has complained of stomach problems but Dr. Faraday knows she is malingering. He gets out of her that strange things are happening and that she believes there is a ghost in the house. Faraday cautions her not to say anything more about the ghost.

While at Hundreds Faraday meets the rest of the family. There is the widowed Mrs. Ayres, her oldest child, Caroline, and her son Roderick, recently returned from the front, injured and suffering mentally from his war experiences, yet striving to keep the home and its farm together .

Faraday forges a relationship with Caroline and falls in love with her. A series of unexplainable events occur which further breaks down Roddy's already weakened mental state and cause him to be committed.

These events lead the family to believe there is a ghost. Faraday (the narrartor), a man of science, cannot explain the events but is unwilling to accept the premise of a ghost.

Waters takes the reader, step by step, through the events that lead up to the ultimate demise of the Ayres.

What a well-crafted story.

© Surveyor of the Passing Scene