The Little Stranger

  • by Sarah Waters
  • Narrated by Simon Vance
  • 15 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A chilling and vividly rendered ghost story set in postwar Britain, by the best-selling and award-winning author of The Night Watch and Fingersmith.Sarah Waters's trilogy of Victorian novels Tipping the Velvet, Affinity, and Fingersmith earned her legions of fans around the world, a number of awards, and a reputation as one of today's most gifted historical novelists. With her most recent book, The Night Watch, Waters turned to the 1940s and delivered a tender and intricate novel of relationships that brought her the greatest success she has achieved so far.With The Little Stranger, Waters revisits the fertile setting of Britain in the 1940s - and gives us a sinister tale of a haunted house, brimming with the rich atmosphere and psychological complexity that have become hallmarks of Waters's work.The Little Stranger follows the strange adventures of Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor. One dusty postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, he is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for more than two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline - its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at 20 to nine. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more ominous than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become entwined with his.Abundantly atmospheric and elegantly told, The Little Stranger is Sarah Waters's most thrilling and ambitious novel yet.


What the Critics Say

"Waters has boldly reassigned all these gothic motifs [of the traditional ghost story] from their usual Freudian duties to another detail entirely: The Little Stranger is about class, and the unavoidable yet lamentable price paid when venerable social hierarchies begin to erode. … Waters has managed to write a near-perfect gothic novel while at the same time confidently deploying the form into fresher territory." (
"[A] marvelous and truly spooky historical novel. … As a strange spot on an old and mouldering ceiling takes on a sinister appearance and bodies begin to accumulate, Waters’s precise and chilling prose lets Dr. Faraday have his way with the story." (Boston Globe)
"Waters (The Night Watch) reflects on the collapse of the British class system after WWII in a stunning haunted house tale whose ghosts are as horrifying as any in Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House....Faraday, one of literature's more unreliable narrators, carries the reader swiftly along to the devastating conclusion." (Publishers Weekly)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

First, pour yourself a mug of hot tea or cocoa

A leisurely pleasant start to this book, for me the equivalent of turning on the TV and seeing the opening credits of a black-and-white movie made in Britain circa WWII: an old manor house looms into view, cut to interior, a young woman looking out the window as rain pelts the glass. BTW, this is not a scene from the book or from any particular movie. It's meant more to describe the feelings such a beginning evokes in me. From the first words (read wonderfully by Simon Vance), I wanted to brew a pot of tea and butter some toast before retreating to an overstuffed chair in front of a glowing fireplace to enjoy this subtly eerie tale.

The first four chapters held my interest well. By the end of the fifth chapter I was suitably chilled to the point that I required the company of two small dogs: I just couldn't be alone at this point. That night, as I lay in bed listening, I had to add a "magic blanket" to the mix. (You know, the type of blanket that prevents unseen hands from grabbing your feet or lightly running a finger up your spine.)

Sarah Waters' prose, her exacting choice of words, has an understated charm, nothing flashy that distracted me as I listened. If you like books/movies such as 'The Uninvited' or 'Rebecca,' you will not be disappointed by 'The Little Stranger.'
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- Rose "S_McGarvey"

Riding a local train

Listening to this book reminded me of riding a train with frequent local stops. No sooner do you seem to get moving when the train halts at a station. You sit there while people get on and off the train and thing happen at the station. Eventually the train gets underway again, but in no time pulls into another station. Fifteen hours later, at a station just like all the rest, the conductor announces, "End of the line; everybody off the train!" And there you are: surprised at the journey's end, because you really haven't gotten anywhere. The writing was stellar, the characters intriguing, the setting unsettling, the narration excellent--but I think because of the frequent and apparently important interjection of apparently preternatural occurences, the ending of the book seems abrupt and unsatisfying.
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- Barbara

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-08-2009
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio