The Paying Guests

Sarah Waters

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The Paying Guests

The Paying Guests There came the splash of water and the rub of heels as Mrs Barber stepped into the tub After that there was a silence broken only by the occasional echoey plink of drips from the tap Frances had been

  • Title: The Paying Guests
  • Author: Sarah Waters
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 116
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • There came the splash of water and the rub of heels as Mrs Barber stepped into the tub After that there was a silence, broken only by the occasional echoey plink of drips from the tap Frances had been picturing her lodgers in purely mercenary terms as something like two great waddling shillings But this, she thought, was what it really meant to have paying guests There came the splash of water and the rub of heels as Mrs Barber stepped into the tub After that there was a silence, broken only by the occasional echoey plink of drips from the tap Frances had been picturing her lodgers in purely mercenary terms as something like two great waddling shillings But this, she thought, was what it really meant to have paying guests this odd, unintimate proximity, this rather peeled back moment, where the only thing between herself and a naked Mrs Barber was a few feet of kitchen and a thin scullery door An image sprang into her head that round flesh, crimsoning in the heat 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.This is vintage Sarah Waters beautifully described with excruciating tension, real tenderness, believable characters, and surprises It is above all a wonderful, compelling story.

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      Published :2019-01-12T11:51:30+00:00

    One thought on “The Paying Guests

    1. La Petite Américaine on said:

      After two years of waiting for Sarah Waters' new novel to come out, reading this actually made me want to cry a little. I don't know what to say. When a book this terrible is written by an author that we know is capable of so much more, it feels like a personal affront. After a fantastic debut and decades of decent novels, what the hell went so wrong with The Paying Guests? How could our fair Sarah do this to us? It's all pretty simple. The problem with this book is that Sarah Waters got famous. [...]

    2. Bonnie Brody on said:

      I struggled through this book, and I DO mean struggled. I usually finish a book within three days, even one as lengthy as this one. It took me over a week to read this novel and I did not find it enjoyable. I am new to Sarah Waters though I've had her novel, Fingersmith, recommended to me in the past.I found The Paying Guests to be overwritten and overwrought. Frances, the protagonist, is given to internal meanderings that repeat themselves over and over again. A good third of this book could ha [...]

    3. karen on said:

      this is another stunner from sarah waters, who seems to be back to her full strength after the divisive The Little Stranger. this book, to me, was nearly as good as the unbeatable Fingersmith. this is her first novel set just post-WWI, and it is such a perfect setting for her to be writing in, considering her typical themes of gender and class. WWI was an unprecedented situation for england, with far-reaching and unforeseen consequences affecting those left behind. while the boys were off fighti [...]

    4. Jill on said:

      Up until now, I have not read Sarah Waters. But if any of her previous books are half as compelling and page-turning as The Paying Guest, I have a big treat to look forward to in the near future.To sum it up in three words: it’s a stunner. Any exploration of the plot will spoil the carefully-constructed narrative with its unexpected twists and turns. The bare bones are these: Frances Wright, considered a spinster at age 27 and believed a little “odd” because she is a lesbian, lives with he [...]

    5. Julie Christine on said:

      Turn off the phone, unplug the television, call in sick to work. Just do it now, before you open the front cover to The Paying Guests, so you won’t have to tear yourself away later on. It’s 1922 and life in a dull London suburb has become one of drudgery and tedium for Frances Wray. Single, in her late 20s, and living with her widowed mother, Frances has narrowed her world to a pinpoint of housework and Wednesday trips to the cinema. Her older brothers were killed in the war and her father [...]

    6. Matt on said:

      Look, I can sit here all day and give you bogus reasons why I picked up Sarah Waters’ The Paying Guests. It’s a lush historical novel. It’s written by a well-respected author known for her twists on that literary genre. It made just about all the top-ten lists of 2014. Yes, I could say all those things, and you might even believe me. It’s not true, though. And if I can’t be honest with an online book club, mostly filled with people I’ve never met, then honesty doesn’t mean a thing. [...]

    7. Blair on said:

      It's with a heavy heart I have decided I am not going to finish reading this properly. I did, in fact, read more than halfway through before skimming the whole of the rest, right to the end, so really I could claim it as 'read' and give it a rating, but I'm not going to. I was looking forward to reading it so much, and am so disappointed I didn't like it.Waters' last book, The Little Stranger, is one of my favourite books of all time, although the general consensus is that it is quite different [...]

    8. Paul Bryant on said:

      Sarah Waters wrote Fingersmith and so attained semi-divine status in 2002. I really um and ah about reading anything else by one of my 5-star authors because the only way is down. The last two from SW (The Little Stranger & The Night Watch) never reached out tentacled appendages and bade me read them, but this one did.And I’m in two minds about it, which is almost two whole minds more more than usual. DIALOGUE BETWEEN PB’S TWO MINDS- What have you been doing for the last 3 days? Reading [...]

    9. B the BookAddict on said:

      I felt a personal link to this story: in 1922, my Nana, Florence, was the same age as the character, Frances Wray. Two brothers, George and Edwin served in WWI and during that war; they made a reciprocal promise to each other. Nana was engaged to George but sadly, he was killed just days before the war ended. Edwin came home to fulfil his part of the promise; he married Florence, who would become my Nana. The death of Florence’s father and two older brothers in the war meant the family money t [...]

    10. Dianne on said:

      There is so much to like about this book. Sarah Waters slowly and exquisitely sets her scene, 1922 London after World War I. Frances Wray and her mother live in an aging home in a genteel London neighborhood. Their fortunes have suffered due to unfortunate investments and they are forced to take in boarders, called “paying guests.” The boarders are a young married couple, Lilian and Leonard Barber. This simple act of economy has unintended consequences that transforms lives forever.I don’t [...]

    11. Cecily on said:

      SEX, fingers, blood, fingers, death, gloves, passion, feet, loss, fingers I’m guessing that got your attention. It’s also the gist of the book, though not necessarily in that order. The first half is packed with sexual tension – and release - but most reviews seem to shy away from indicating that. Tastefully explicit, and touchingly erotic; “The PGs” is definitely not PG.It’s a story of two very different parts (but oddly divided into three sections): the first is a love story, that [...]

    12. Jenne on said:

      Part 1: cosy and a bit drab but in an interesting way, like a Barbara Pym novel (hmm, I thought, this is a new side of Sarah Waters)Part 2: SEXY (oh never mind, there she is!)Part 3: brutal, agonizing tension like waiting for medical results or SAT scoresPart 4: (yeah right, like I'm going to spoil the ending for you)

    13. Jane on said:

      Where I got the book: purchased on Kindle. A read for my IRL book club.I came to this novel having barely skimmed the description, so I had absolutely no idea what to expect. As I started it, one book club friend was lamenting that she was waiting for something to happen…And I must admit, this story has a slow lead-in. It’s 1922; London is still recovering from the War, with unemployed ex-servicemen everywhere, many families still mourning the men they’ve lost, and the former servant class [...]

    14. Lauren on said:

      Geepers, this book.It's just oh, it is a boring mess. Fingersmith and Tipping the Velvet and even The Night Watch which I didn't really like all that much at least had things happening that didn't always involve the main characters. The world was moving.Here, the world is stuck: it's just after WWI and no one really seems to know where to go or what to do.And for the first half of the book, nothing happens. A couple moves in to Frances' house. That's it. OK, there's some woman-on-woman action f [...]

    15. Diane on said:

      I am conflicted about this novel. The prose is lovely and I really liked the first half of the book, but I grew impatient with the stale plotting of the second half. The heroine of the story is Frances Wray, who lives with her widowed mother in a genteel home in 1920s London. To help pay the bills, the Wrays take in lodgers, who are politely called "paying guests." The lodgers are a young married couple, Lilian and Leonard Barber. Frances becomes friends with Lilian, and then falls in love with [...]

    16. Lisa on said:

      Now this was a BOOK.I don't want to say much about this one. And I really don't think it's a good idea to go nosing about for information. Just wait patiently until it hits the shelves (or do what I did: stew about it and figure out a way to get a copy early and fast). Go into into this one as green as you can. Don't read any reviews (okay, maybe karen's: /review/show ). I've checked out the reviews, and there are a few gals who seem to be spoiler-buttoned-challenged and I would just hate for yo [...]

    17. Michael on said:

      Pretty good as a time machine to London in the period of recovery after World War 1. A domestic drama plays out in the life of Frances and her mother that begins with taking on a young couple, the Barbers, as boarders. The economic pinch of the losses of a father and brothers in the war has them relinquishing an upper class life with servants and struggling to keep their house. The sense of invasion of their life to these “paying guests” is well done. The Barbers are of the “clerking class [...]

    18. Trish on said:

      This is my first Sarah Waters and I was surprised to find it darker and creepier than her mainstream popularity led me to expect. I must have been adding my own embellishments as I read others’ reviews, creating my own reality. In a way, this is what Waters’ central character, Frances, does in this story about mores in 1920’s England and two women who try to find their way to love in secret.Frances belongs to a genteel household which includes only herself and her mother now at the end of [...]

    19. BrokenTune on said:

      "They had no idea how decency, loyalty, courage, how it all shriveled away when one was frightened."So, days after finishing The Paying Guests I am still shaking my head in disbelief. Disbelief that a book can have the power to torment me and make me feel like it tied me to the rear bumper and dragged me backwards through vast wilderness of human emotions.The story is set in London of the 1920s complete with luscious descriptions of fashion and day-to-day details of the post-war life. Left in di [...]

    20. Felicity Allan on said:

      Groosly overwriten and cliched, the most glaring deficiency is a complete lack of firm, sympathetic editing. Key scenes, when they eventually arrive, are marred by repetition, bad use of adjectives and seriously poor punctuation.The main protagonists are completely two dimensional, particularly the ghastly, flaccid Lilian, and there is a passage in serious contention for the Bad Sex prize.The narrative is very obviously a close copy of 'A Pin To See The Peepshow', which is sad given Sarah Waters [...]

    21. Mona on said:

      Admirable Historical Writing, but Too Unremittingly Bleak to be Enjoyable This is a tough book to review.I admired the author's skill.The characters are believable, especially the very sympathetic Frances Wray, the main character.Her accuracy of time and place is excellent. So is the muted tone of the prose.And Juliet Stevenson did a nearly superhuman job reading the audio. This cannot have been the easiest material to read. But.The book is so bleak (although the ending is more hopeful than much [...]

    22. Marie on said:

      Wow! What an incredible book. Sarah Waters has created a marvelous piece of historical fiction set in England 1922 in a genteel Camberwell neighborhood. The war has ended. Many have died, including the protagonist’s two brothers and her father. Those that returned from the war are disillusioned. Frances Wray and her mother are left bankrupt by their father who squandered away their money. They have dismissed the servants and are now taking in boarders. Frances does all the cleaning and cooking [...]

    23. Agnieszka on said:

      It is year 1922, the dust after the turmoil of war hardly fell, the higher social classes have lost their fortunes and former status and are forced to live in new circumstances. Such fate shares 26-year-old Frances Wray who lives with her mother in decaying house in the suburbs of London. Her brothers died at the front and father died leaving family in debts. Frances, formerly feisty activist and suffragist all at once has a lot on her plate. She’s a maid and gardener, cleaning lady and nurse. [...]

    24. Terri on said:

      This is a slow read and packed with lots of details of English domestic life so be warned. I plodded through semi-interested and occasionally riveted. The ending is a humdinger (don't you love that word) and so I am glad I stuck with it. I am a fan of the talented Welsh author Sarah Waters. If you haven't read "Fingersmith" or "The Little Stranger"go pick up some copies. Her book is set in 1922 in Camberwell, South London, where a elderly widow and adult daughter live in a comfortable home. Time [...]

    25. Susan on said:

      This atmospheric novel is set in London, 1922. The country is still reeling after the First World War and, in Camberwell, widowed Mrs Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are just two women dealing with the aftermath. The house resounds with ghosts, including that of Mrs Wray’s sons, John Arthur and Noel, who died in the war. Frances, meanwhile, is full of resentment; much of it aimed at her dead father, who she felt bullied her brother’s into enlisting, before leaving her and her mother [...]

    26. Hanneke on said:

      I have mixed feelings about this book. I thought it was very boring for too long as nothing really happens in the first 250 pages. True, we get a very atmospheric description of the 1920's, the class system, the devastating result of WW-I on family life and on British society as a whole. However, 100 pages would have been quite enough to present the setting and tell us a silly romance story with lots of secret panting and sighing and groping in the pantry. By page 250 I was tempted to toss the b [...]

    27. Kim on said:

      I wish I liked this novel more than I did. Sarah Waters is a gifted writer. Her prose is highly readable and she has a well-developed ability to evoke time and place. I had high expectations of this, her latest novel, but I was disappointed. Not even Juliet Stevenson's excellent narration of the audiobook edition kept me as interested in the narrative as I wanted to be.The novel is set in 1920s London, when it was still recovering from the devastation of World War I. Poverty forces genteel Franc [...]

    28. Rebecca Foster on said:

      To begin with, this is a subtle domestic drama set in South London, psychological tension bubbling beneath the surface of a seemingly placid home life. Yet abruptly, at nearly the mid-point, it becomes a melodramatic crime story. Although both halves of the novel are done well, it feels as if this is two different books put together.Waters fans will find the novel’s first 300 pages much less plot-driven than any of her previous work; they may, in fact, find themselves utterly bored by the weal [...]

    29. Noeleen on said:

      The Paying Guests was chosen as our book club read for January. I have to be honest and say that I hated it in the beginning. I got to about a third the way through and I felt that I just couldn’t continue with it. It was SOOOOOOOOO SLOOW There was nothing happening, like nothing! And this is a long big book so that wasn't a great start! But as it was our book club choice I really felt guilty and compelled to finish it. I started reading some reviews on , thinking it was just me finding it tou [...]

    30. Sandy (CA) on said:

      I have read many excellent reviews of Sarah Waters' books. I was particularly eager to read this, her latest, since I assume that an author's work improves as time goes on. I have mixed feelings about this book - some disappointment, some admiration.I felt that the first one-third of the book dragged. Nothing much happened. The main characters were introduced slowly. The reader gets the impression of a very slow and sad life, not many luxuries, time to sit by the fireplace with tea or read a boo [...]

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