The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Firstly – very sad to hear about the death of Debo Devonshire (Debo Mitford). She lived a long and busy life, but it is the end of an era – and the end of that faint hope I had of meeting her.

Secondly – my review of Sarah Waters’ new novel The Paying Guests. I actually read this for Shiny New Books, but some miscommunication revealed that somebody else was actually reviewing it for our third issue (our in early October – eek, so many books to read by then) so, instead, I reviewed it over at Vulpes Libris!

I love Waters, but each of her novels always seems (to me) just to fall short of being truly great. So… what did I think of The Paying Guests? That tantalising question can lead you straight into my review

11 thoughts on “The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

  • September 25, 2014 at 6:25 am
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    My comment is–book is similar in theme to FLORENCE AND FRED by Jilll Dawson.
    A good if long winded read but i felt let down overall as it was not a multi layered plot.

    Cheryl

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    • September 28, 2014 at 2:12 pm
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      Interesting, Cheryl, I haven't read any Dawson. Although I think I might have met her once…

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  • September 25, 2014 at 10:34 am
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    Really interesting to read your thoughts on this novel, Simon. I agree at how well realized Frances is as a character. She is quite complex and multi-layered. However, I had sort of the opposite reaction to you in that I was thoroughly immersed in the affair bit and, while I was thrilled and appreciated the second half, felt it dragged on slightly. Maybe I'm more of a sucker for stories where people who assume they are over romantic & erotic passions suddenly find themselves overwhelmed by these feelings when discovering someone they really connect with. I particularly appreciated the complex way she presented it. It's not like they just look into each other's eyes and know. Frances' feelings for her go up and down from near obsession to really looking down upon her and this seems to really reflect the way our egos feed into the way we perceive and desire other people. This novel does now feel like my favourite Waters, but I'm sure if I reread Fingersmith my allegiance would quickly switch back to that.

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    • September 28, 2014 at 2:13 pm
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      That's a really good point, Eric. I think I just have low tolerance for any sort of romantic storyline (which says more about me than the book…) so I found it less interesting.

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  • September 25, 2014 at 12:50 pm
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    Wow, Debo gone. What a dynasty that was. I have so much to say about that set of sisters; far far far too much for a blog comment.

    Thanks for letting me know. I hadn't heard it yet, but then, this is the first book blog I've visited this morning….:^)

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    • September 28, 2014 at 2:14 pm
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      It really is the end of something very important and something I feel quite emotionally attached to.

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  • September 25, 2014 at 10:57 pm
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    I was so sad to hear that the Duchess had died, as I too had cherished hopes of someday meeting her. I was the fortunate winner when you gave away a copy of her autobiography, which holds a treasured place in my Mitford collection.

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  • September 26, 2014 at 10:20 pm
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    I just got my copy in the mail last week. I am going to read it first (just so as not to be unduly influenced) and come back to your review when I have finished. I am a huge fan of Sarah Waters, however. I disagree with you regarding “just falling short”. I think The Little Stranger and Fingersmith are truly great. But you know, horses for courses…

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    • September 28, 2014 at 2:14 pm
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      Horses for courses indeed! I felt let down by the endings of both of them, for different reasons – too much plot and not enough!

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  • September 28, 2014 at 5:38 pm
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    I'm going to skip reading this review for a while as I wait for my copy of the book to arrive. I'm definitely split on her books – one or two have been perfect and the others have been just short of perfect. I'm hoping (based on the few words I have read about it) that this one will fall in the perfect column!

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