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2015 50 Book Challenge - Page 181

post #2701 of 2702
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
1. A Tale for the Time Being
2. The Sun is God
3. The Keeper of Lost Causes
4. Lost and Found
5. Murder on the Eiffel Tower
6. How to be Both
7. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
8. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth
9. Levels of Life
10. The Seventh Day
11. Fortunately the Milk
11b. The Sleeper and the Spindle
12. The Agile Project Management Handbook
13. Reykjavik Nights
14. The Siege
15. The Torch
16. Being Mortal
17. Hicksville
18. Sam Zabel and the Magic Pen
19. The Buried Giant
20. Another Time, Another Life
21. The Corpse Reader
22. Portrait of a Man
23. All the Birds, Singing
24. Out Stealing Horses
25. Last Winter We Parted
26. The Rabbit Back Literature Society
27. Rituals
28. Bitter Remedy
29. The Ring and The Opposite of Death
30. Old Gold
31. Hausfrau
32. Irene
33. I Refuse
34. Nothing is True and Everything is Possible
35. The Dalai Lama’s Cat
36. Blood Year: Terror and the Islamic State
37. The Eye of the Sheep
38. The Miniaturist
39. Crime
40. Golden Boys
41. The Holiday Murders
42. My Brilliant Friend
43.The Girl Who Wasn't There
44. The Thief
45. Someone Else's Conflict
46. Dark Road

47. The Paying Guests
The Paying GuestsThe Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Set in London just after World War 1, The Paying Guests is about Frances, a dowdy spinster who has fallen on hard times. She and her mother are reduced to taking in lodgers: the fun-loving Lillian and Leonard.

(At the start of this book I suspected we were in for something similar to Cloudstreet and I still sort of wish that had been the case).

Frances is the despair of her straight-laced mother, having been caught out in a lesbian affair years ago. As Frances starts to take a shine to Lillian, she senses her mother's veiled disapproval. Lillian and Frances become closer as they become more familiar until finally, upon returning home from a party, they become lovers. Their relationship must be kept hidden from view and there is much to-do with opportunistic intimacies and rushed liaisons. Eventually they are discovered, with tragic results. Desperate to keep their secret, they cover up their part in the tragedy, which only makes things worse.

This is pretty much melodrama, somewhat breathlessly told and not all that convincing. Lillian's overnight conversion from platonic friend to enthusiastic lesbian lover is a bit too sudden to be credible. I found it odd that a lesbian writer would also gloss over the unlikelihood of a heterosexual woman having a highly-aroused response to her first, tentative, lesbian encounter. It just seems totally unlikely to me.

In the end this is a pretty straightforward novel of a crime of passion and a courtroom drama, given a twist by the lesbian affair it its centre. The characters are histrionic and irritating a lot of the time. At times Waters looked like she would develop a more disturbing explanation for her characters' motivations, but she chooses not to do so. Compared to the dark twists of plot that enriched her earlier work such as Fingersmith and Affinity, Sarah Waters just seems to be phoning it in these days.

View all my reviews
post #2702 of 2702
Originally Posted by LonerMatt View Post

Got to 50!

Well done Matt; got there before me again. What a great writer to bring up your 50 with, too.
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