The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters | Books | The Guardian
Transgression in Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger Barbara Braid Abstract The or The Fall of the House of Usher, and above all, its ambiguous ending. transgression in the novel to show the connection between the issue of class and the. Review: The Little Stranger by Sarah WatersSarah Waters is unrivalled awkward friendship with the family and eventually a relationship with Caroline. In the end, though, however fresh the prose, confident the plotting and. Affinity's plot is essentially Margaret moving back and forth between the the Ayreses an expression of England's continuing love-hate relationship with its . Though The Little Stranger restored my faith in Waters as a writer.
Dr Faraday is from a working-class background; indeed, his mother was briefly a servant at Hundreds, a fact that causes embarrassment on both sides. His ascension up the class ladder makes him at times an uneasy presence at Hundreds. At the cocktail party, other guests are baffled that the doctor is there as a guest. When he gives Caroline a lift along the country lanes, he thinks of his uncles who once worked in the surrounding fields: But I felt overcome suddenly with an absurd sense of gaucheness, and falseness - as if, had my plain labourer uncles actually appeared before me now, they would have seen me for the fraud I was, and laughed at me.
The Ayres are forced to sell land on which council houses are to be built, literally breaking down the wall of privilege that has surrounded the estate. No wonder that they feel haunted: Waters's persistent picking apart of class is fascinating, making the downfall of Hundreds and the Ayres more poignant than any ghosts ever could.
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In the end, though, however fresh the prose, confident the plotting and astute the social analysis, The Little Stranger has a slightly secondhand feel to it. Waters is clearly at the top of her game, with few to match her ability to bring the past to life in a fully imagined world.
I found myself responding differently to the other characters through him. It made writing about desire, for example, very different. In my earlier book, my female narrators necessarily experience their desire for other women in rather furtive, troubled ways.
Also, this is your first novel that does not include major lesbian and gay characters. Was there any particular significance to that decision? No — it just turned out that way.
Sarah Waters on "Little Stranger," Identity, and Lesbian Fiction - AfterEllen
But this story just came along and took hold of my imagination, and it was very clearly not a story with a lesbian element.
Caroline is not your average feminine woman; Roderick, in a sense, is more feminised than she is; and Dr. Do you believe in ghosts? I like the idea of it, in other words — but not the reality. Faraday mentions the superstitions of many of the poor people he treats — beliefs that seem outlandish to us today.
How does this environment affect his reaction to what is happening at Hundreds Hall? Things at the Hall get weirder and weirder, but he insists on maintaining a rational explanation: Does the name Hundreds Hall have a special significance? I spent quite a while trying to find a name for the Hall. So the name made geographical sense — but, more than that, it had the right kind of resonance, with its suggestions of size, of age, and of obsolescence.
Is the Hall based on a real house, or is it purely a product of your imagination? I borrowed bits I liked — such as the octagonal drawing-room, which is the sort of room you might easily find in a house of that age. But I also took some liberties! Ultimately, Hundreds is like all the houses of gothic fiction: How did you research this novel?
The biggest challenge was the setting. All my books before this one were set in London, which I know very well. The Little Stranger has a rural setting, and though I grew up in the country, I soon realized that I had a very dim grasp on how the countryside looks and feels at different times of the year!
So I looked at histories of rural life, and I read Warwickshire newspapers of the time, to see what the preoccupations of the area would have been.
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I also listened to sound recordings of Warwickshire voices: I did some research into country houses, too — finding ones that resembled my fictional Hundreds Hall and, if I could, visiting them. I also, of course, read books about the paranormal — about ghosts and poltergeists. That was fun, if a little spooky.
After a while I began to fear that I was thinking so hard about supernatural manifestations, I would actually conjure one up… Q. Are the events in the story based in any way on actual events? Why are the weird events centered on them? What repressions and conflicts are being brought to the surface?
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Questions like that are at the heart of The Little Stranger. Were there any particular works of literature that influenced you as you wrote this book?
I read lots of post-war British novels as part of my research, and I was struck by how many of them are preoccupied with the social changes of the day, even if on the surface they are quite other sorts of books — crime novels or romances or stories of family life.
Two writers who had a particular influence on me are Angela Thirkell and Josephine Tey. Thirkell wrote a long series of novels based in the fictional county of Barsetshire: With The Little Stranger, I wanted to take on that cosy, bigoted British landscape and, by injecting something dark and dangerous into it, sort of watch it self-destruct… Jospehine Tey was a crime writer — again, amazingly readable and a great story-teller, but thoroughly conservative.
My starting-point for The Little Stranger was her novel The Franchise Affair, in which a working-class teenage girl accuses a reclusive middle-class mother and daughter of having abducted and imprisoned her. What kind of experience do you hope readers have in reading this novel? Faraday is a reliable narrator? What do you think is responsible for the disturbances at Hundreds Hall?
Faraday was very much like them, a middle class country doctor, a friend of the family, and he was going to report these tragedies from a distance, not really understanding them. But then he became much more interesting to me as he became more complicated and that made the book much richer for me. He essentially becomes a bit of an unreliable narrator.
I think it has to do with his perception. I knew I wanted that. I knew I wanted the book as open-ended as I thought I could get away with without disappointing readers. Hundreds Hall imprisons the family emotionally and financially, which has a different weight to it. Yes it does, in the sense that [the Ayers] could leave, but they chose to stay. Roderick feels this terrible weight of responsibility.