Paying Guests

Author(s): Sarah Waters


"A triumph: spellbinding, profound and almost problematically addictive.... Morally complex, atmospheric, romantic and psychologically deep, The Paying Guests is an astonishing achievement and a notable Booker omission." --Daily Express (UK)

The year is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned, the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. In South London, in a large silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants, life is about to be transformed, as Mrs. Wray and her daughter Frances are obliged to take in lodgers.
With the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, the routines of the house and the lives of its inhabitants will be shaken up in unexpected ways. And as passions mount and frustration gathers, no one can foresee just how far, and how devastatingly, the disturbances will reach.
In this psychological and dramatic tour-de-force, beloved international bestseller Sarah Waters proves once again that her eye for the telling details of class and character that draw people together as well as tear them apart is second to none.


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- National consumer advertising - Bringing Sarah Waters' London to life - interactive content celebrating her unique vision of the capital through all her novels - Consumer competitions and publication day activity to ensure this is THE literary PB of the summer -

Sunday Times Fiction Book of the Year

Shortlisted for the 2015 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction

Winner of Independent Bookshop Week Book Awards: Adult Book 2015

Long-listed for Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2015.

Absolutely brilliant -- Jacqueline Wilson Sunday Times

A page-turning melodrama and a fascinating portrait of London on the verge of great change --Guardian

Waters's page-turning prose conceals great subtlety. Acutely sensitive to social nuance, she keeps us constantly alert ... From a novelist who has been shortlisted for the Booker three times, this is a winner --Intelligent Life (The Economist)

The novel's remarkable depth of field - from its class-ridden background to its individuals' peccadilloes - is sharply portrayed by an author writing at her best. Waters's 20-20 vision perceives the interior world of her characters with rare acuity in a prose style so smooth it pours down the page in a book to be prized Scotland on Sunday A sumptuously subdued story of making do and getting by after the great war -- Philip Hensher Guardian

Brilliantly involving ... juicy, beautifully observed [and] not afraid to be explicit --Metro

A triumph --Woman & Home

You will be hooked within a page ... At her greatest, Waters transcends genre: the delusions in Affinity (1999), the vulnerability in Fingersmith (2002), the undercurrents of social injustice and the unexplained that underlie all her work, take her, in my view, well beyond the capabilities of her more seriously regarded Booker-winning peers. But The Paying Guests is the apotheosis of her talent; at least for now. I have tried and failed to find a single negative thing to say about it. Her next will probably be even better. Until then, read it, Flaubert, Zola, and weep -- Charlotte Mendelson Financial Times

A masterpiece of social unease ... It isn't so much the plot that makes you read on - the novel's armature is a comparatively uncomplicated suspense narrative but barnacled to it is an astonishing accretion of detail ... A virtuoso feet of storytelling -- Jane Shilling Evening Standard

She give(s) us a poignant love story which symbolically sees in the death of the old order, the death of the old fashioned husband and maybe the birth of an era of love without secrets --Independent

Waters is brilliant --The Times

A nod towards Little Dorrit also seems perceptible in the book's quiet ending amid the bustle and clamour of London. Unillusioned but tentatively hopeful, it is a beautifully gauged conclusion to a novel of ambitious reach and triumphant accomplishment -- Peter Kemp Sunday Times

The Paying Guests demonstrates the writerly qualities for which Waters is esteemed, proving as 'fantastically moody and resonant', in terms of the rendering of domestic space, as a novel the author herself described as such and which she once said she would like to have written: Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca --Literary Review

Sarah Waters is, quite simply, one of our greatest writers -- Joanna Briscoe Sunday Express

Another wild ride of a novel ... [I was] helplessly pulled along by the magnetic storytelling -- Tracy Chevalier Observer

Sumptuous ... The writing is impeccable. A joy in every respect -- Lionel Shriver New Statesman

An uninterruptable joy of a novel ... Sarah Waters at her tip-top best -- Juliet Nicolson Evening Standard

The Paying Guests is so evocative and compelling that all the time I was reading, I had a feeling it was me who had done something terrible, instead of her characters -- Rachel Joyce Observer Fiction book of the year

This novel magnificently confirms [Sarah Waters's] status as an unsurpassed fictional recorder of vanished eras and hidden lives --Sunday Times

The Paying Guests reminded me just how clever it is to create characters that captivate through their adventures in a world so well-realised that you can almost reach out and touch it -- Zoe Strachan Sunday Herald

I raced through it, breathing fast and when I had finished had to reread parts of the wonderful early chapters. I don't like historical novels but this is the exception. I shall let a few months go by and then read it all over again with, I'm sure, undiminished pleasure -- Ruth Rendall Guardian

Super-gripping ... There is a huge momentum to this story -- William Leith Evening Standard

Sickeningly tense - and thumpingly good --Daily Mail

You know you are in the hands of a skilful, confident writer when you read a Sarah Waters book. She slowly reels you in. She weaves plots and themes that creep up and entangle you while you are innocently following her characters. They go about their shadowy business and by the time you raise your head from the page to take a breath, you're hooked -- Viv Albertine Telegraph

Sarah Waters was born in Wales in 1966. She has been shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange prizes and has won The South Bank Show Award and The Somerset Maugham Award. Four of her novels have been adapted for television. She has been named as author of the Year four times - by the Booksellers Association, Sunday Times, Waterstone's and The British Book Awards.

General Fields

  • : 9780349004600
  • : Little, Brown Book Group Limited
  • : Virago Press
  • : June 2015
  • : United Kingdom
  • : June 2015
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Sarah Waters
  • : Paperback
  • : 1
  • : en
  • : 823/.914
  • : 608