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The little stranger
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From the multi-award-winning and bestselling author of The Night Watch and Fingersmith comes an astonishing novel about love, loss, and the sometimes unbearable weight of the past.

In a dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to see a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the once grand house is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its garden choked with weeds. All around, the world is changing, and the family is struggling to adjust to a society with new values and rules.

Roddie Ayres, who returned from World War II physically and emotionally wounded, is desperate to keep the house and what remains of the estate together for the sake of his mother and his sister, Caroline. Mrs. Ayres is doing her best to hold on to the gracious habits of a gentler era and Caroline seems cheerfully prepared to continue doing the work a team of servants once handled, even if it means having little chance for a life of her own beyond Hundreds.

But as Dr. Faraday becomes increasingly entwined in the Ayreses' lives, signs of a more disturbing nature start to emerge, both within the family and in Hundreds Hall itself. And Faraday begins to wonder if they are all threatened by something more sinister than a dying way of life, something that could subsume them completely.

Both a nuanced evocation of 1940s England and the most chill-inducing novel of psychological suspense in years, The Little Stranger confirms Sarah Waters as one of the finest and most exciting novelists writing today.

From the Hardcover edition.
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Booklist Review
Waters' darkly atmospheric fifth novel is set at a decaying mansion in postwar England. The narrator, Dr. Faraday, first visited Hundreds Hall as a child, when his mother, a servant at the great manor, brought him there for a party. Nearly three decades later, he returns on a professional call and soon finds himself growing close to the owners: the widowed Mrs. Ayers, who has never gotten over the death of her oldest daughter, and her two adult children, Caroline and Roderick. Faraday treats Roderick's war injury but watches helplessly as the young man, who is convinced there is an evil presence in the house, slides into madness. After a devastating incident involving a young neighbor, Faraday finds he has no choice but to commit Roderick to a mental institution. Faraday finally faces the feelings he's developed for Caroline, but the malevolent force shadowing Hundreds Hall hasn't finished with the Ayers family yet. An eerie ghost story mixed with piercing class commentary, Waters' latest is downright haunting.--Huntley, Kristine Copyright 2009 Booklist
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