Review – The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

the_little_strangerDear Sarah Waters,

Are we friends yet?  We’re three books into this relationship, which I know is not nearly as close as you’ve gotten to be with other readers.  I know, I know that I need to read your other novels, your starters, your masterpieces.  Tipping the Velvet and Affinity are at the top of my TBR list, so please don’t get too mad at me.  But here we are again, I’ve finished reading The Little Stranger and I’m having mixed feelings about this!  I wish that I didn’t have to say this in a letter, but I doubt you’d take a phone call from me, considering we’ve never actually met and I’m 95.6% sure that you don’t know I exist.   Plus, you probably don’t want my advice because I am a minion and you are SARAH WATERS caps lock. Unless you’ve Googled “Sarah Waters Review The Night Watch” in which case, I am on the first page!

First, let me sing you some praises, because you certainly deserve them.  The Little Stranger scared me, and while it’s true that I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to ghost stories, there are absolutely some bone-chilling moments in this book.  You also know how to pull a twist so delicate that we don’t even know it’s happening, but it’s been there all along.  Kudos.  I don’t know how you do it, but you give even the most seasoned plot-guesser a run for their money, I’m sure.  Your characters are so realistic that I’m pretty sure I know them.  Especially Kay from The Night Watch and Dr. Faraday from The Little Stranger.  I am also sure that I’ve been to the Hundreds before, even though it probably doesn’t exist outside of these pages.  You’re just so good at putting me somewhere that I lose grip on my own reality, and believe me that is not a complaint.

With every book of yours I have read, it has been like a roller coaster ride of emotion.  Between Fingersmith, The Night Watch and The Little Stranger I have gone from mystery, eroticism, WWII, drama, aristocracy, women!, men!, ghosts, betrayals, bombs.  There have been moments of pure joy, love, and wonderfulness.  But, I cannot lie to you, there are moments when I think you could cut back the pages just a wee bit.  I get a little tired sometimes and I just want things to move a little faster.   Lord knows, you can spin a yarn and it is good.  I’m so torn!  I don’t want you to cut back, but I want the books to be shorter, but then I don’t want you to lose your wonderful detail!  I want you to trim things down a bit, but I’d be kicking myself if I lost parts of your book.  Plus, you put me in a place so convincingly that I wouldn’t give that up for anything.  If losing that sense of scene is what it would cost me to fix this problem then forget I ever mentioned it.

So really, this is just a wishy-washy letter that is me, telling you, that I like to read your books but sometimes they make me tired.  Maybe I just don’t have the stamina for your awesomeness, so really you should ignore this all together.  But I do have a secret to tell you: I don’t think you’ve written your best book yet.  I think you’re keeping it all locked up and secret and one day you’re going to whip it out and it’s going to smack us in the face.  Because you’re like that and it will be amazing.

Sincerely, lovingly, adoringly, wishy-washily,




So go read this!: now | tomorrow | next week | next month | next year | when you’ve exhausted your TBR pile

Other reviews: A Garden Carried in the Pocket, Shelf Love, A Life in Books, Fleur Fisher Reads, Farm Lane Books Blog, S. Krishna’s Books

16 thoughts on “Review – The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

  1. I love it! I had mixed feelings about The Little Stranger too. It was an enjoyable read, but it didn’t have that special spark.

    I really hope that you are right about her being able to write an even better book, but I’m not sure she’ll be able to top Fingersmith – I thought that was amazing!

    1. Jackie: I loved Fingersmith, too, but I still thought it was a little on the long side! Still her best book ever. I just have this inkling (absolutely fueled by Fingersmith) that some day Sarah Waters is going to wow me like no one ever has before, so I’m waiting for that day.

  2. Great review! This is the only Waters book I’ve read, and I loved it. (I have The Night Watch on my shelf.) And yes, I think you’re right on that the twist was there all along, but we readers didn’t know what we were looking for.

    1. Teresa:

      I think you’ll love The Night Watch. It is really a great read. I also recommend the audiobook, the narrator is fabulous!

  3. What a great post! I really liked The Little Stranger which was the second book by Sarah Waters I’ve read. And after that I went and read The Night Watch which I loved even more. But I think you are right, I think she will write something even greater in the future and I can’t wait to read it.

  4. Ha! I agree. I LOVED Tipping the Velvet and Affinity, but they were loooong. Tipping the Velvet in particular (all the pages were good, but there were MANY). However, i would like to read Fingersmith and this one… maybe that’s what I’ll read instead of Anna Karenina…

    1. Daphne:

      Oh you will ADORE Fingersmith! Put AK away, NOW 😉 Not that AK isn’t worth reading, I’m sure it is, but I never finished it.

  5. You made me chuckle with this post! 🙂 Personally I love a good, long, pseudo-Victorian, long, plot- and character driven long novel, so her length totally doesn’t bother me. I thought The NIght Watch, in particular, was fantastic – wouldn’t have wanted it a page shorter. But I can definitely see being of a different opinion. And I bet you’re right that she has better things to come.

  6. Emily:

    I started reading The Night Watch and abandoned it and then listened to it, which worked much better because I didn’t notice the length as much. But I also didn’t get to enjoy all of the subtleties either. I missed a lot of things because I couldn’t go back and savor them. So I gained some and lost some there. I ended up really liking it, but not as much as Fingersmith.

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