"They had no idea how decency, loyalty, courage, how it all shrivelled away when one was frightened." ~ The Paying Guests
This is one of those novels that I am completely thrilled to be writing a review for because I cannot say enough good things about it! With tasteful and passionate love scenes and characters that are rich and multi-dimensional, The Paying Guests delves into the psyche of the human mind without apology. I couldn't help question my own intellect while reading and wonder, "What would I do? What the HELL would I do?"
The Paying Guests is a historical novel set in post-Victorian England. The novel is beautifully written with amazing attention to detail. Readers are taken back to 1922 London - the grit, the greyness, the unmistakable changes that were in the air.
Due to financial hardships, Mrs. Wray and her daughter, Frances, are forced to take in tenants to help pay the bills. Long passed are the days of servants and high-society status. The arrival of the "paying guests," Mr. and Mrs. Barber, will prove to turn Frances' entire world upside-down. Can love survive traumatic consequences?
A mix of a love story, a crime novel, and a psychological look at human behavior under the most dire of circumstances makes The Paying Guests one of the most fascinating and addicting books I've read in ages. I quickly became sucked into the plight of Frances and Mrs. Barber, Lilian. I felt elated, heartbroken, and even frightened along with them.
For those of you who read my other reviews, you know that I am very critical of novels that are predictable. Well, not the case in this one! Waters will keep you guessing and wondering what in the world is going to happen next up until the very last page. Even the ending doesn't entirely wrap everything up for the reader. Yet that is exactly the point of it all. Life is anything but a neatly-wrapped package.
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys period novels, crime novels, and women's fiction. Please don't let the length of this one keep you away. Every page is a masterpiece. The Paying Guests will keep you wondering about the characters long after you've finished the book. I look forward to reading other novels by Sarah Waters.
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