The Paying Guests

The Paying Guests

Book - 2014
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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.

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. Little do the Wrays know just how profoundly their new tenants will alter the course of Frances's life - or, as passions mount and frustration gathers, how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be.

Short-listed for the Man Booker Prize three times, Sarah Waters has earned a reputation as one of our greatest writers of historical fiction, and here she has delivered again. A love story, a tension-filled crime story, and a beautifully atmospheric portrait of a fascinating time and place, The Paying Guests is Sarah Waters's finest achievement yet.
Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA), 2014.
ISBN: 9781594633119
Branch Call Number: WATERS S
Characteristics: 566 pages ; 24 cm


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From Library Staff

LPL_KimberlyL Sep 28, 2017

I read this book over two years ago, but I continue to think about it on a regular basis. Sarah Waters is a mastermind when it comes to compelling stories and richly detailed historical fiction. Her writing style is so lush and well-researched, you almost feel as if you are a time traveler! If yo... Read More »

If you like this doorstop novel's suspense, romance, and historical detail...

Having lost two sons to the Great War, an English mother and daughter, down on their luck, rent out the upstairs of their once grand mansion to a lower class couple, a decision that ends in scandal and murder.

From the critics

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ArapahoeJohanna Jul 24, 2018

As a fan of Sarah Water's earlier books, I was a little disappointed in this one. Her writing style is gorgeous as always, but these characters were less compelling than I would have expected from her. The book is claustrophobic, taking place almost entirely in a small townhouse in 1930's London. A woman and her mother are forced to take in lodgers to make ends meet, making their home feel crowded and small, and this feeling permeates the entire book. The entire relationship between the two women takes place within those walls, with their respective mother and husband sometimes just a wall away. It was beautifully written but difficult to read.

Jan 20, 2018

In my opinion, the book is too long, author describes almost in every little detail day after day life of the main character. Although there are some really tense moments. There is a feeling that this book is written by a woman, as it seems to me, not only because an author is a woman, but because a souch tightness in descriptions of woman's love feelings, can be expressed only by woman who lived those feelings.
There is a love relationship between two women, and their struggle in overcoming all possible obstacles, including a crime.
The ending didn't impress me.

ArapahoeAnnaL Dec 14, 2017

The setting is post WWI London, experiencing post traumatic stress; the characters are from the upper and the "clerk" classes; the plot is reminiscent of Dostoyevsky's "Crime and Punishment."

The “volcanically sexy” (USA Today) bestseller about a widow and her daughter who take a young couple into their home..." Named a 2014 best book!

LPL_KimberlyL Sep 28, 2017

I read this book over two years ago, but I continue to think about it on a regular basis. Sarah Waters is a mastermind when it comes to compelling stories and richly detailed historical fiction. Her writing style is so lush and well-researched, you almost feel as if you are a time traveler! If you have yet to read any of her works, this is a great place to start.

Aug 11, 2017

Started out as a charming, old-fashioned story, but then introduced a lesbian theme. Really? Does every book today have to have overt sex (gay or hetero) in it? Just ruined the book for me. Too bad, because it had potential. I'm not against relationships in a book when appropriate for the storyline, but this seemed so contrived. Disappointing.

Aug 24, 2016

Great book with wonderful characters. Gives the reader a glimpse of life in England after the first world war. The subject may not be for all readers. It's an unconventional love story....and a thriller. Highly recommend.

Mar 15, 2016

There should have been serious editing done to this book!! The actual story line wasn't bad, but there were many unnecessary details and descriptions that didn't even pertain to the story. I would have given it a better rating if she had cut about 100 pages out of the book.

Mar 03, 2016

I found this book entertaining and engrossing, but I am interested in the time period, between the World Wars and how people lived then. The murder mystery part of it was almost too intense for me, but I am not much into thrillers

Mar 02, 2016

I liked this book but it could have had about half the pages deleted and still have been an effective and engaging story. It needed some good editing. Still, I did enjoy it...especially the ending!

Nov 02, 2015

I did not enjoy this tedious book at all. The writing was pretty, but the plot was dull and tired. I skipped pages and pages at a time just to get through it.

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Aug 07, 2015

amnahas thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


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Dec 30, 2014

"But the end, Frances wanted to say, was impossible to imagine. It was like the idea that one would grow old, when one was thrumming with youth; like the knowledge that one would die, when one felt full to one's fingertips with life."


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