A chilling and vividly rendered ghost story set in postwar Britain, by the bestselling and award-winning author of The Night Watch and Fingersmith.
With The Little Stranger, Waters revisits the fertile setting of Britain in the 1940s -- and gives us a sinister tale of a haunted house,... read more
In a dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
In a dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. Its owners – mother, son and daughter – are struggling to keep pace with a changing society, as well as with conflicts of their own.
But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become entwined with his.
Prepare yourself. From this wonderful writer who continues to astonish us, now comes a chilling ghost story.
“She said families like ours, they had a—a responsibility, they had to set an example. She said, if we couldn't do that, if we couldn't be better and braver than ordinary people, then what was the point of us?”Caroline Ayres
“Hundereds is lovely. But it's a sort of lovely monster! It needs to be fed all the time, with money and hard work.”Caroline Ayres
“I'll take my chances with the hungry house, don't worry about that. I'm a pretty indigestible fellow, you know.”Dr Faraday
“. . . every dog was a biter, and where was the sense in punishing a creature for what was natural to it?”
“I've known doctors . . . who've taken to drink. Others of us, though, it humbles. We see what a punishing business it is, simply being alive.”Dr Faraday
“What's wrong with gaps and odd corners? Who'd want a life without any of those?”Caroline Ayres
The subliminal mind has many dark, unhappy corners, after all. Imagine something loosening itself from one of those corners. Let’s call it a—a germ. And let’s say conditions prove right for that germ to develop—to grow, like a child in the womb. What would this little stranger grow into? A sort of shadow-self, perhaps: a Caliban, a Mr Hyde. A creature motivated by all the nasty impulses and hungers the conscious mind had hoped to keep hidden away: things like envy, and malice, and frustrationHighlighted by 23 Kindle customers
‘Well, the sexual impulse is the darkest of all, and has to emerge somewhere. It’s like an electrical current; it has a tendency, you know, to find its own conductors. But if it goes untapped—well, then it’s a rather dangerous energy.’Highlighted by 13 Kindle customers
If Hundreds Hall is haunted, however, its ghost doesn’t show itself to me. For I’ll turn, and am disappointed—realising that what I am looking at is only a cracked window-pane, and that the face gazing distortedly from it, baffled and longing, is my own.Highlighted by 9 Kindle customers
Could there be something loose in that house, some sort of ravenous frustrated energy, with Caroline at its heart?Highlighted by 8 Kindle customers
She went into the house as if stepping through a rip in the night and instantly sealing it up behind her.Highlighted by 7 Kindle customers
You don’t actually think I should abandon her to her delusions, purely for the sake of keeping intact some sort of . . . class pride?’Highlighted by 7 Kindle customers
Caroline looked at her for a moment, struck by the lines of age and sadness in her face, and suddenly seeing her—as, when we are young, we are now and then shocked to see our parents—as an individual, a person of impulses and experiences of which she herself knew nothing, and with a past, with a sorrow in it, which she could not penetrate.Highlighted by 6 Kindle customers
I’ve never attempted to remind Seeley of his other, odder theory: that Hundreds was consumed by some dark germ, some ravenous shadow-creature, some ‘little stranger’, spawned from the troubled unconscious of someone connected with the house itself.Highlighted by 5 Kindle customers
anodyne response, and we talked the matter over for a time; but the conversation soon returned to the great parties and balls that the county had hosted in the past, and I had less to contribute. ‘That must have been nineteen twenty-eight or ’twenty-nine,’ I heard Miss Dabney say, of some particularly glittering event; and I was just wryly picturing my life in those years, as a medical student in Birmingham, dead onHighlighted by 4 Kindle customers
mendacious man. I’ve seen too many of the complications, in the lives of my patients, to which lies lead. But in this instance I thought it best to try and put a definite end to any speculation regarding Caroline and me; I thought this for Caroline’s sake as much as my own. I rather hoped to run into Seeley. I planned to ask him, baldly, to do all he could to quash those rumours he’d mentioned, which suggested that I was romantically interested in one orHighlighted by 3 Kindle customers
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