Waters, Sarah. The Little Stranger. Riverhead, 2009. ISBN 978-1594488801 480 pp. $
This post-WWII British ghost story has the tone of Wuthering Heights to it–the narrator, a poor country doctor who has always admired the big house where his mother worked as a servant in his youth, is called to look in on the family’s newest hire. The mansion is in disrepair, the family has fallen on hard times, and the servant girl thinks there is something evil lurking… Dr. Farady finds himself becoming more friend than hired help to the Ayreses, and becomes enmeshed in trying to figure out what’s going on–mental illness? a haunting? something else?
The themes of class and tone is lovely and the author does a wonderful job maintaining voice. The pacing is perfect for the period setting, but not so appealing for this contemporary reader. Spooky, but not terrifying, the ambiguous ending is delectable, but takes too long to get to.