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3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Most helpful customer reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Atmospheric Ghost Story May 26 2009
By Nicola Mansfield HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Reason for Reading: Sarah Waters had a new book out! Need I say more!

Comments: The Ayres family have lived at Hundreds Hall since the early-mid 1700s and now in post-war times (WWII) there remain three family members, one live-in servant and one half-time servant under its roof. During the war, they did their part for the war effort giving their rooms over to soldiers, their land over to the army for its use, their silver for melting, their furs, woolens, linens, etc for cutting apart and making clothing, handing down clothing they didn't need for those left without homes after the bombings and now that the war is over they have little left. Mrs. Ayres, in her fifties, not old by any means, seems old as she belongs to a different generation and the children try to keep the facts of their penury from her. Roderick, returns from the war a cripple and after recovering from his wounds tries to keep the dairy farm and the estate running for his mother's sake even if it kills him. Caroline is called home from the WRENs to nurse her brother through the long recovery from his injuries at his homecoming and then settles down to help with the estate; a robust, active, yet plain woman she is many years past the expected age of marrying yet she still hopes and now she can be found either in the kitchen with the women help or out on the land helping out the dairy farmer. But this is nothing especially special about the Ayres family, this is a situation that a geat many of the landed gentry of England found themselves in post WWII and the only way they managed to survive was to sell off the land piece by agonizing piece.

What makes the Ayres special is Hundreds Hall itself. Naturally without the money, the manpower or the resources it is falling to pieces and slowly crumbling around them.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful prose, an eerie story! Oct. 16 2012
By Darlene TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
The Little Stranger is an eerie story that is told in a very subtle way. It was a 2009 Man Booker Prize Nominee for Shortlist and also a 2009 Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fiction & Mystery/Thriller.

The story takes place in England after WWII and features the well-to-do Ayres family. The matron of the family, Mrs. Ayres, is widowed and she lives at the Hundreds Hall estate with her rather homely daughter, Caroline, and son, Roderick. The family has fallen on hard times, and what was once a shining jewel is now a decrepit mansion in desperate need of repairs. Roderick, in his father's stead, has taken over the handling of the estate's day-to-day affairs but is finding it hard to manage when there are no liquid assets left. The rugs and furniture, once beautiful and ornate, are threadbare and shabby. The bulk of the financial burden falls on Roderick's shoulders, which puts a huge strain on him.

One of the local country doctors, Dr. Faraday, is called to Hundreds Hall because the Ayres' young servant, a teenager named Betty, has been stricken with stomach pains. His now-deceased mother was once a servant for the Ayres family, and Dr. Faraday remembers being so enamoured with Hundreds Hall as a young boy. He is thrilled to have an opportunity to see it again, but he is quite shocked to see it in such a state of disrepair. The Ayres have become somewhat like hermits, keeping mostly to their estate and not venturing out into town. A congenial friendship is struck up between Dr. Faraday and the Ayres family, and he begins to drop in and visit with them. He notices that Roderick's leg, which was injured in the war, has been giving him trouble and the good doctor offers to take a look at it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Luanne Ollivier #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
It is 1949. Britain is still feeling the effects of the war. In rural Warwickshire, Dr.Faraday is called to Hundreds Hall to check on the well being of a servant in the Ayres family home. As a child Dr. Faraday was in the house once. His mother was a nursemaid there when she was younger. He was captivated by the house, the family and their wealth. On this visit, he is dismayed by the decline of both house and family. Mrs Ayres lives there with her son Roddie, who was injured in the war and is struggling to keep the family home afloat. Daughter Caroline was called home to help when Roddie returned from the war and never left. The only live in servant left is a fourteen year old girl.

From that first visit, Dr. Faraday slowly becomes part of the family's life. He is called on often to treat Roddie. Something ails Roddie besides his physical injuries. The young servant girl insists there is something 'wrong' with the house. Caroline begins to wonder this as well, as more misfortune befalls the family.

" This house is playing parlour games with us, I think. We shan't pay it any mind if it starts up again."

She confides in Dr. Faraday and enlists his help.

" I don't know what's going on here, any more than you do. But I'd like to help you figure it out. I'll take my chances with the hungry house, don't worry about that."

This is a tale with a 'gothic' feel to it, a ghost story of sorts. But it doesn't involve overt frights or over the top scenarios. Instead it is all the more delicious for the subtle and insidious manner in which the story unfolds. Everyday items and occurrences suddenly take on a sinister bent.

The interplay between the characters is just as much a part of the story. Dr. Faraday is a bit of an enigma.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasant Surprise!
Oddest little book, but when I put it aside I found that I couldn't get it off of my mind! I did finish it and I can honesty say that it was one of the best books that I've ever... Read more
Published 27 days ago by JANICE COOPER
4.0 out of 5 stars A good British book
I really enjoyed this book, as it was very subtle and understated compared to american horror or scary stories. Loved how it unfolded, and enjoyed the writing very much. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Heather Martin
3.0 out of 5 stars The Little Stranger was a Little Disappointing
The author has done a great job of researching and conveying the social and physical aspects typical of the time. This is the key strength of this book. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Elle Ess
2.0 out of 5 stars Long and laborious read....
I kept waiting for something to happen. A very long and boring read, with descriptive passages that are just toooo long. A scene at a party takes 6 pages to describe. Read more
Published 21 months ago by J. E. Stone
5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric and cleverly written.
The British National Health Service began in 1947, so this is set just prior to that. Waters does an amazing job of recreating postwar rural England as regards the way people... Read more
Published on July 6 2012 by Calliope51
1.0 out of 5 stars absolutly boring
I really had trouble finishing this book, you have to wait so long to have something happen. I even skipped pages while reading this. Read more
Published on June 27 2012 by bookfan
4.0 out of 5 stars The Little Stranger
No platitudes with original turns of phrase, it is well written & easy. Part slow rustic stew, part Harlequin springy bosom romance (almost quit), part creepy simmering noises... Read more
Published on Jan. 6 2012 by Pithy
3.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps better to wait for the movie
Set in 1948, Dr Faraday is the son of working class stock who one evening is called out to the Hundreds Hall, the seat of the Ayres family, the estate where his mother worked when... Read more
Published on Aug. 13 2011 by Paolo
4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts...
Hundreds Hall, a once-grand estate in rural Warwickshire, frames the setting of Sarah Waters' newest novel. Read more
Published on May 30 2011 by Reader Writer Runner
2.0 out of 5 stars Banal. Great for putting you to sleep at night
I'm still wondering why I kept ploughing through this most bland, colourless novel. I didn't like any of the characters. Even the narrator didn't like them. Read more
Published on Sept. 12 2010 by Samantha
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