Friday, July 31, 2015

The Cephalopod Coffehouse - The Paying Guests

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!  


  1. While the setting is cool, don't think the setup of the relationships is my thing.
    If I hurry, I will actually finish two books this month!

  2. That sounds like a good read. I've had challenges reading since my husband died. I just switched to reading adult books after years of MG and YA. It seems like it's helping to read about adults for awhile.

  3. In July and August, I plow through books. In any other month, I really have to plan so I can be sure to finish at least one.

    Paying Guests sounds like fun. I'm very intrigued by the fact that you won't even tell us who gets killed!

  4. This looks really good. Someone else mentioned this book to me a month or so ago, and I love the 1920s era, so I'm definitely going to check it out. I love the cover too.

  5. I'm a total Anglophile and the period suits my historical fiction like, so I'll probably give this a try.
    Thanks for recommending!

  6. It sounds wonderful. And right up my very broad street. As is usual, I have read a lot of books this month. None fall into 'best book' category, but there was fun and learning there just the same.

  7. We do like them period set

  8. This book sounds like a story I would enjoy, thank you for bringing it to my attention.

  9. We all go through periods where we're not reading much and periods where all we seem to be doing is reading. If you aren't able to finish a book in August, no big deal.

  10. This book sounds wonderful.
    WW1, borders, and a murder what's not to like !

    cheers, parsnip

  11. This book sounds right up my street, thank you for reviewing it.


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