Thursday, January 05, 2012

I Might Be Sleeping With The Lights On For Awhile

It's only been about an hour since I finished The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, so I don't think it's too far-fetched to still be listening intently at every small noise in the house.

A few bits and bobs worth mentioning, without actually full-on reviewing the book, because I don't want to ruin it for anybody (well, mostly ruin it, anyway):

- The Little Stranger is a very slow burn.  Literally half the book has passed before anything real happens.  I was annoyed by this until I finished the book and realized how deeply the author had to flesh out the narrator's personality and mind in order for the reader to understand the subtext during the fast-moving final act.  And even then....I do personally tend to be slow on the uptake with this kind of thing.  I had seedlings in my mind as I read as to what the real deal was, but I needed to read the whole thing to get it altogether.  She waits until literally the last few lines of the book to make things clear, and they are serious whoppers.  I definitely suggest going to the forums related to this book at once you're finished reading it.  The comments and reviews are blah, but the forum discussions lay some of the murkier aspects bare in a very concise and well-put way.  Not that I'm suggesting that you, as a reader, need it, but I know it helped me put two and two together on a couple things.

- This book is perfect for fans of stories like The Haunting of Hill House and The Turn of the Screw. (Both of which have been referenced numerous times by critics reviewing it.)  It follows the same pattern.   The Little Stranger takes things a step further, though, I think, because the author includes a long list of actual historical references in the acknowledgements at the end.  She even has characters in the story make mention of real-life texts on the subject, which I found amazingly interesting.

Using this book as a gateway into my resolution to start reading regularly again was a good move.  I was enthralled through the whole thing, even when I was frustrated at the slow pace.  Highly recommended, especially if you like ghost stories.


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