4 February 2019

A Good Read

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
The year is 1922 and life in a South London suburb has become one of drudgery and tedium for Frances Wray. Single, in her late 20's, and living with her widowed mother, Frances’ life has become a monotonous routine of housework and Wednesday trips to the cinema. She exists awkwardly between the end of the Edwardian era and the beginning of the Jazz Age. She feels stifled by time and culture and although comfortable with her sexuality she has already paid a stiff price for a previous romance with a woman. She could, as her former lover did, move to London and live a far freer life, yet she chooses duty to her mother. Her older brothers were killed in the war and her father’s shady financial dealings left her and her mother in ruin. The Wrays are forced to take in lodgers. 

Enter Lilian and Leonard Barber, she blowsy but sweet, he rakish and flirtatious in a way that leaves Frances slightly queasy. The small indignities of sharing a home with strangers —the trips through the kitchen to access the outdoor toilet; the coughs and blowing of noses, the creaking of floors overhead, the chance meetings on the landing in one's dressing gown — all excruciating, but must be endured, for how else will the bills be paid? But the Wrays have no way of knowing just how disturbing their tenant’s presence will be or what a devastating impact it will have on Frances’s life.

The scene setting is so exact, rich and full of detail, the reader is transported to the place and time. You can smell the scent of cigarettes and sweat, feel the fabrics, the touch of a lover's hand slipping over soft, eager skin, the cool damp of a garden at night, the weight of a body dragged through the ripe mud. The tenseness of trying to remain normal whilst harbouring a dreadful secret was tangible. I was on the edge of my seat.

The Paying Guests is a brilliant crime thriller that also explores a woman’s soul. Don’t be put off by the hefty volume, once you start reading you will not be able to stop.


~Happy Reading ~
Polly x

7 comments:

  1. That sounds like a good read. I shall look out for it. There must be many people forced by money difficulties to take in lodgers and finding it rather stressful.

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  2. This looks very good, Polly. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  3. This sounds interesting. I'll try to find in library.

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  4. You've described it so beautifully, Polly, it immediately goes on my list. Thanks for the recommendation.
    Amalia
    xo

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  5. Sounds good. Must add it to the list.

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