Rated Reads

The Little Stranger

by Sarah Waters

Rated: Mild

Dr. Faraday is a simple country doctor in post-World War II Great Britain living a quiet life. His parents have been dead for some years, and he has no siblings. He performs his duties for his patients and spends some time with his colleague and friend Dr. Graham. One day, when Dr. Graham is busy, Dr. Faraday is called on to take care of a patient at Hundreds Hall, an old estate that has quietly been in decline for several decades.

His visit there starts a relationship with the inhabitants of the house, an old aristocratic family. Caroline and Roderick Ayres and their mother have kept to themselves for some time, trying to eke out enough of a living from the estate to keep it up, but largely failing. They are in mostly desperate circumstances, and Dr. Faraday finds himself drawn to them and to their situation, trying to provide some support as he can. He cares a great deal personally about the estate — his mother had been a maid there as a young woman, and he had visited there as a child — and he finds himself drawn to the house and wanting to be there and to see it continued.

But soon after he becomes involved in the family’s life, some strange things begin happening. The house itself has a kind of personality of its own — large, dark and foreboding — with a sinister mood hanging over it, and soon the family experiences odd happenings. Dr. Faraday is drawn into these events and the lives of the Ayreses ever more deeply and personally as the book proceeds.

The Little Stranger is a subtle ghost story, one that is absorbing primarily for its atmosphere, its setting, and its characters rather than for any overt scares or shocks. It’s more a period piece, a tale of people and places, with some mystery weaving through it. It’s a well-written tale, a ghost story for people who don’t usually read ghost stories.

Rated: Mild. There is some mild language and some brief, mild sexual references. There are three instances of strong language being referred to, but abbreviated in the old-fashioned way of a first and last letter and a long dash in between.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for more than 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

2 Responses to The Little Stranger

  1. kristin says:

    Just as an FYI, if you listen to the book, the swears are said. (I suppose there is no way to dash out the swears when it is being read.)

  • The Little Stranger
  • by Sarah Waters
  • Rated: Mild
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Reviewer: