The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

paying_guests_175x275The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters.

It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned, the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa, a large silent house now bereft of brothers, husband and even servants,  life is about to be transformed, as impoverished widow Mrs Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.

For with the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the ‘clerk class’, the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. And as passions mount and frustration gathers, no one can foresee just how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be.

Gloria: This book wasn’t too interesting to me up until the time that Lillian’s husband died.  I don’t want to give it away so I won’t say more.  It was difficult to figure out what this historical novel (1922 era) was really about, was it a love story, a mystery, a post-war era story?  I do like how the author developed her characters, they are truly unique characters, people with odd idiosyncrasies and I am not referring to the lesbian behaviors, just the quirkiness of each character. Frances and her jealousy, it didn’t matter if it was a woman or not, I could just feel her jealousy and anxiousness. The writer evoked those kind of thoughts in me. The story was slow, interesting when there was a murder. It had a lot of fear, and yet, if they had been honest in the beginning it wouldnt have been a murder. The solving of it was interesting. I give high marks to the author for character development but low marks for the story itself.  I rank it a 2.5

Robin: I was so happy when I looked at Sarah Waters website to see that she has written lots of books because I want to read more by this author. I liked this book. I was reading it while taking my on-line writing class. As each topic of a good writer was introduced we were instructed to find examples in books. I found so many great examples in “The Paying Guests” – the moral question, foreshadowing, character interactions, and more. I loved the fact that this story kept me on my toes and guessing. I don’t want to give anything away, but until the bitter end the reader is led with subtle clues to cheer for Frances, to alternate between despair and frustration with Lilian and Frances, and to never give up hope for a happy ending. I must have been in a very different space then everyone else because I didn’t find it slow, although I wouldn’t call it a page turner or anything. Rate: 3.5.

Linda: I couldnt get into the understanding to how they were that open in the 1920s. I never felt like the answer to whether Lilian was really gay or not, it wasn’t compelling enough to make me keep reading. The murder was slow going, but for some reason I kept going. I knew there was going to be a murder. I found it a “so what” book, unsatisifying. Rate: 2.0

Cindy: When I started reading this book I had high hopes, then it completely fell off a cliff. I got so tired of all the childlike approach to sexuality and I just didn’t like it. About halfway through, I stopped reading. I knew there was going to be a critical event, duh, it happened, and I didn’t care. By that time I had given up. I was very disappointed, because I really liked it at first. I like books about the English manors and that time period. Rate:1.80

Connie: I’m only a third of a way through, but it’s going slow. They just had played that board game for hours and he’s a real jerk and I don’t like Frances very much. Maybe I would be done if it wasn’t going so slow. Probably not going to finish it based on what everyone else is saying.

Christina: I liked it but it was very slow, thought it was because I read at such a slow pace. She did a good job of describing those details, emotions, but things were a bit too heavy handed. She spent too many words to describe too little. Not efficient or elegant. Rate: 2.0

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