Why mince words I loved this book. From the opening page you’re drawn into this lovely world of 1920’s London and the lives of a mother and grown daughter whose circumstances are forever changed by the Great War.
To make ends meet they rent out rooms in their their grand old house to a young couple or ‘paying guests’ . Although awkward at first, a relationship quickly develops and before you know it the old house comes to life again with a steamy, illicit, passionate love affair.
Of course, illicit affairs are the stuff of real life and fiction. I think what makes this one unique is that it explores illicit love amidst the backdrop of changing moral fabric. The old world where women played prescriptive roles was changing. The Edwardian sensibility was fading against the rise of the middle class and the collapse of the old social genteel order. When the Barbers, a rough and tumble young couple (he’s an insurance broker, she a stay-at-home wife of questionable class) move in, their relationship with Frances and her mother becomes a microcosm of the new social order that is emerging.
This all sounds very academic but what this book is, is an extraordinary romp that’s well executed on multiple levels. Without giving too much away I would say that the book is also a study in the slippery slope of moral indiscretion where one act begets another and before you know it,your characters are far away from who they thought they were or hoped to be. Another great read! I loved it and look forward to reading other books by the talented Ms. Waters!
One response to “Books: The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters”
I’m very far behind on reading my blogs. But thanks for this review & this recommendation!! It sounds great. I might see if I can get my book club to read it 🙂