15 reviews

The Paying Guests
by Sarah Waters

Published: 2014-09-16
Hardcover : 576 pages
18 members reading this now
48 clubs reading this now
15 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 6 of 15 members
The New York Times bestselling novel that has been called “a tour de force” (Wall Street Journal), “unputdownable” (The Washington Post), “a delicious hothouse of a novel” (USA Today), “effortless” (The Economist), “seductive” (Vanity Fair) and “pitch perfect” ...
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The New York Times bestselling novel that has been called “a tour de force” (Wall Street Journal), “unputdownable” (The Washington Post), “a delicious hothouse of a novel” (USA Today), “effortless” (The Economist), “seductive” (Vanity Fair) and “pitch perfect” (Salon)
“Superb, bewitching…Forget about Fifty Shades of Grey; this novel is one of the most sensual you will ever read, and all without sacrificing either good taste or a "G" rating” – NPR
“One of the year’s most engrossing and suspenseful novels…a love affair, a shocking murder, and a flawless ending … Will keep you sleepless for three nights straight and leave you grasping for another book that can sustain that high.” — Entertainment Weekly (A rating)

Volcanically sexy, sizzingly smart, plenty bloody and just plain irresistible." —USA Today (4 stars)

It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa—a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants—life is about to be transformed as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.

With the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the “clerk class,” the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. Little do the Wrays know just how profoundly their new tenants will alter the course of Frances’s life—or, as passions mount and frustration gathers, how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be.

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.

Editorial Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, September 2014: It is 1922, in a genteel house in a genteel neighborhood just outside of London. Here, the widowed Mrs. Wray and her 26-year-old daughter, Frances, pass each day very much like the day beforeâ??with Frances busying herself with household chores, maybe a bit of needlepoint, and her mother nibbling on a lunch of cauliflower cheese while making notes for the parish newsletter. In less skilled hands, such prolonged stage-setting would test even the most patient reader. But in Watersâ??, itâ??s mesmerizing, with every small but evocative detail serving to transport you further into this place and time. Take a deep breath as youâ??re reading, because as soon as you are you lulled into the calm cadence of these lives, the Wrayâ??s tenantsâ??the â??paying guestsâ?? they have taken in to help with the billsâ??turn everything topsy-turvy, and by the novelâ??s conclusion, you have gone from straight-up period piece, to love story, to edge-of-your-seat crime thriller (and not the American kind â??with a plot full of holesâ?? that the Wrays suffer through on picture-house Wednesdays). For a story set just after WWI, some of the themes Waters touches on are surprisingly contemporary. History does repeat itself sometimes, and so it goes for Sarah Waters, with yet another masterful novel. â??Erin Kodicek


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Overall rating:
by jenn d. (see profile) 11/09/18

by Debra F. (see profile) 01/25/17

  "The Paying Guests"by Susan G. (see profile) 07/13/16

The dialog is well-written, but nothing happens until you're more than half-way through the book. There is very little specific description, so there's no help in visualizing - and the 20's are such a... (read more)

by Lynne P. (see profile) 11/12/15

  "The Paying Guests"by Jane L. (see profile) 09/17/15

The graphic sexuality in the first half of this book was
too graphic for me and boring, This couple happened to be gay but I would feel the same if the
characters were heterosexual. The s

... (read more)

  "The Paying Guests"by Judi R. (see profile) 06/19/15

I could not finish this book. I didn't like the story, I couldn't care a less about any of the characters - it was totally boring. I forced myself to get about half way through and it never got any better.... (read more)

by Patty W. (see profile) 06/18/15

  "The Paying Guests"by Susan T. (see profile) 06/12/15

Although everyone in the club liked the story they felt it was too long and drawn out.

by Karen S. (see profile) 05/25/15

by Diane O. (see profile) 05/22/15

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