Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My first read-along: The Little Stranger, first half at the Estella Society

  The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters Chapters 1-8
My first read-along at the Estella Society. The Little Stranger. I’m only mildly creeped out.  I can read this at night.  I can read this by day.  I can read this in bits. I can read this any way.   But, I think I should read it faster to get the full creep effect. Just me.
What’s really creeping up on me is how much of a leech Dr. Faraday is. He reminds me a bit of Chillingsworth in The Scarlet Letter,  (Favorite books alert) only more obsequious, less self-aware. Could anybody be less self-aware than Faraday? And then that self-disclosure in the last chapter – pathetic.

 I love Caroline telling him she thinks he must hate himself.  And Rod telling him to
get out – that he is nobody.   After such betrayal. What about patient-doctor privilege?

 Mostly I’m waiting to figure out how the title comes into play and I’m not sure I like that.  Is the “little stranger” Faraday? Or the bratty little visitor that Gyp bit?  Or the dead first child?  Or something quite apart?  Should so much suggestion depend on interplay with a title? What if the book were called “The Hundreds.” How would it be different? Maybe the title will come into play in the last half. I hope so.
Maybe the little stranger  -- title and all-- will creep up on me.
And I too will be thoroughly infected.


  1. It is definitely a slow build sort of a book, which I like. And it's an interesting title that will come into play, though it answers very few questions. It's a thinker of a book with lots of interpretation and lots of wonky characters maybe not to be trusted.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts thus far!!! Looking forward to more!

  2. Ooo, that is a really good question about the title. I suspect it would be less creepy if we weren't waiting for the titular character to show up - the anticipation combined with the creep-tastic house adds flavor. So if it were simply called The Hundreds, or The Ayres, or something of that nature, the anticipation wouldn't be there from the very beginning and thus we'd lose it almost entirely.

  3. Thanks Andi. And Tikabelle, yes it is a creeptastic house. It's alive! I like the way Waters establishes the house as a character.

  4. The title points me to the dead child but I'm not sure if we will get a definitive answer.

    I'm not sure if Dr Faraday struck me as obsequious, but he is most certainly totally not self-aware. He seems to live in a world of wish fulfillment and disregards reality most of the time. I am certainly glad that he isn't my doctor! :)

  5. I hadn't looked at the doctor as a leech, but yeah *ponders* I think you have a point! He's also so resentful, wanting to be part of the Hundreds Hall household so badly. I hope he dies horribly at the hands of the little stranger.

  6. Maybe Sue, you are right. Obsequious is not quite the right word. But the ways in which he attaches himself to this family are leech-like -- electrodes first, then the clumsy seduction. Yick. I wouldn't want him to touch me. And yet, when I began he seemed like a nice reliable narrator. I like books where the narrator's voice gets less and less trustworthy as we go along, and this is one of those for me.
    Chinoiseries, -- I don't think The LittleStranger is likely to kill the narrator; I think the stranger is after the family. Also who is going to be left to narrate the end of the story in Faraday dies?

  7. Yes! Dr Faraday is such a leech. He is obsessed with the house I think. You can tell from the very beginning. He just wants in--to that life, family, house.

    Interesting thoughts on the title. I'm close to the end and still haven't figured out where it fits in.