This morning we met to discuss The Little Stranger, the 2009 novel by Sarah Waters. There were a range of responses to the book, with several people disliking it and several people enjoying the creepiness of the Gothic horror story.
One of the most prevalent discussions of the book revolved around class. The crumbling class structure of British 1940s is everywhere in the book, from the very obvious decaying Hundreds Hall to Dr. Faraday’s unspoken but clearly obvious desire to better his own class.
We also discussed who or what the “little stranger” of the title really was – was it supernatural, or was it mental instability of people who were losing their entire lives in front of their eyes? Was it possibly Faraday himself, who is certainly unreliable in his telling of the story? Because the author leaves the question deliberately ambiguous, the consensus of the Book Clubbers was that it was a somewhat unsatisfying end. We all wanted to know the answer!
Another aspect of the novel was the romance between Caroline and Faraday, and whether we believed they loved each other. Most of us felt that, more than anything, Faraday loved the house and the status associated with it. Whether consciously or unconsciously, he wanted to marry Caroline to cement his relationship with the house. She, on the other hand, saw her relationship with him as a way out of the house. As a result, it was never going to work.
One of the great things about the book club is when we disagree on a book. In this case, there were people who gave the book a 1 (out of 5 stars), and people who gave it a 4. We can’t wait to meet in October, when we tackle the always creepy Shirley Jackson. We’re hoping to compare the two a little bit! Come join us!