Welcome to another edition of the Cephalopod Coffeehouse. The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same. In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers. Please join us:
I have an admission. I didn't finish a single book this month. I started two new ones (well, one I've read before so one new one), but didn't finish either. In fact, I've been a terrible reader all year long. However, there is a book I read on vacation I will share with you today. It's called The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters.
I was especially fascinated by the setting, which is just after WWI, and the exploration of society at that time. The premise is this: It is 1922 and Frances Wray and her mother are barely recovering from the loss of both the older Mr. Wray as well as the younger. They are in bad financial straights and are forced to take in borders - The Paying Guests. At first Frances keeps her distance from Lillian and Leonard Barber, but slowly they grow on her, especially Lillian, with whom she forms a relationship.
And then someone is killed. I won't say who but suffice it to say it was unexpected and how it all turned out was equally surprising. The characters were wonderfully drawn; I could totally picture the carefree, sensual Lillian and the stiff, trying-to-be-good Frances. Leonard annoyed me as he did Frances and the elder Mrs. Wray was exactly the sort of mother you could imagine trying her best to put on a good front while pretending not to see things. And of course there's London in the post war period, a character almost unto itself.
"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." (Amazon)
Next month I promise I will have finished at least one book!