Posted on | July 6, 2009 | 10 Comments
Reading insightful reviews by Savidge Reads and Dovegreyreader, and then Dovegreyreader’s interview with Sarah Waters posted today, has persuaded me to re-examine the novel and my reaction towards it; it is rare that a negative impression of a book prompts such consternation in me but this one has. Simon suggested re-reading the closing line to make sense of the subtle and vague ending and I managed to do so recently (I, ahem, sold my copy of the novel, which is something I never do with hardbacks, especially those I was counting down the days until published). I urge you to re-read that closing line as it confirmed a hunch I had whilst reading the novel, but by the close of it I had almost stopped caring if it was correct or not. Re-reading that line and reading complimentary and illuminating reviews by others made it clear to me that I definitely missed something in the first reading. Upon further reflection and drawing comparisons with my favourite novel, Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, I now have more of an appreciation of the novel, of its nuances. I am now more disturbed by my potential limitations as a reader by giving it too linear a reading and being oblivious to some of its subtleties.… Perhaps it was my own expectations of the novel that let me down; The Little Stranger didn’t live up to the high bar I had set for a beloved writer and in setting it so high I think I sold Sarah Waters short and consequently myself.
This is a peculiar blog post to write but I have been struggling with the thoughts over the last couple of weeks and thought that I should share them. The slow building of resonance with this novel has completely taken me by surprise and it has a lingering, haunting quality that is rather apt.