Book review: ‘The Little Stranger’ by Sarah Watters

By LARRY BALLWAHN | Wilton

Hundreds Hall was a grand old mansion, a park (gardens and green space that were fenced in) and extensive farmland beyond that. It was one of the few estates that remained in England after the Second World War; it was a remnant of when gentlemen lived on the family’s accrued income and the rental of their land holdings. By the time the war ended, Hundreds Hall was in a state of advanced deterioration and much of the land had been sold to make ends meet.

Dr. Faraday had first been at Hundreds as a 10-year-old boy in the company of his mother, who had been a nursery maid there. Now Colonel Ayres and his eldest daughter, Susan, were dead, and servants were a thing of the past — well, nearly, anyway. The reason Dr. Faraday was here was that the sole servant girl, Betty, was ill with what turned out to be an advanced case of homesickness. While determining that, Dr. Faraday found that the large old house was considerably at fault. “Oh, Doctor, it isn’t a proper house at all … Everything’s jumpy, in this house.” After a pep talk with Betty, Dr. Faraday prescribed medicine for an upset stomach and encouraged the Ayres to be supportive.

The Ayres family now consisted of Mrs. Ayres, the colonel’s widow, and her children, Rodrick and Carolyn. Roderick had been badly wounded in the war, and Carolyn had been called home to help her mother. Along with Roderick’s physical damage, there was a mental component. Both maladies were now under control, and Roderick was managing the dismal fortunes of Hundreds Hall.

Dr. Faraday took a real interest in Roderick’s injured leg because he had some background in decreasing leg pain using electrical current. While making his weekly visits to assist Roderick, he got to know both Carolyn and Mrs. Ayres. In fact, he was considered enough of a family friend to be invited to the few social functions at Hundreds at the present time.

It was at a dinner for some of the neighbors that the first really strange event took place. Gyp, the elderly family dog, severely bit the neighbor’s young son in the face. This was totally out of character for Gyp. At the same time, Roderick suffered such a frightening experience in his room that he had been unable to attend the dinner. In addition, he believed he had indirectly caused the child’s injury, as he had angrily ordered the offending spirit to leave his room. He felt that the spirit had then upset the dog. It’s now that Dr. Faraday begins to sense what Roderick and Betty feel. Hundreds Hall wants something; while it’s not clear what, it does not seem to bode well for the Ayres.

Things only get worse for Roderick. There is a fire in his room that he is suspected of setting. The pressure Roderick is under seems to have broken him, and Dr. Faraday finally realizes that he will have to be institutionalized. Eventually the dismal circumstances get to Mrs. Ayres; she gives up and hangs herself.

There is a subplot. Dr. Faraday has fallen for Carolyn, and the romance has progressed. Whatever has possessed the house seems to be satisfied as it has now settled down. So much so that the doctor is envisioning living there after the wedding. The questions are, has Hundreds Hall really been satisfied, and is that really what’s been going on?

In my opinion, there are much better titles for “The Little Stranger.” Read the book and let me know your thoughts on the matter.

Comments are closed.

  • County Line delivery delayed to rural Ontario customers

    July 3rd, 2020
    by

    The U.S. Postal Service has not delivered this week’s County Line to rural Ontario subscribers, and we haven’t been able […]


    Brookwood graduation is July 24

    July 2nd, 2020
    by

    Brookwood’s graduation is slated for Friday, July 24, but the nature of the ceremony will be determined by Monroe County’s Coulee Covid-19 Compass risk rating on Wednesday, July 22.


    Book review: ‘Winterkill’ by C.J. Box

    July 1st, 2020
    by

    Joe Pickett is a game warden in Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains.


    Ontario Public Library to begin phase two of reopening plan

    June 30th, 2020
    by

    On Monday, July 6 we will begin phase two of our reopening plan, which allows you to make an appointment to use the library internet, computers, and printing services.


    Phase one of Wilton Public Library reopening starts July 6

    June 30th, 2020
    by

    On July 6, Wilton Library will begin phase one of reopening by taking limited library appointments.


  • Kendall Gathering and All-School Reunion canceled

    June 29th, 2020
    by

    The Kendall Gathering and All-School Reunion has been canceled for 2020.


    Motorcyclist severely injured in Wellington crash

    June 27th, 2020
    by

    A motorcyclist sustained possible life-threatening injuries in a Thursday crash on Midway Avenue in the town of Wellington, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.


    Two hurt in town of Forest motorcycle accident

    June 26th, 2020
    by

    Two were injured in a single-motorcycle accident reported at 5:30 p.m. Thursday on Highway 33 at County Highway V, according to the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office.


    Royall graduation set for July 11

    June 25th, 2020
    by

    Royall will host an in-person graduation Saturday, July 11, but it will not be open to the public, staff and other students.


    Book review: ‘The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books: Christopher Columbus, His Son, and the Quest to Build the World’s Greatest Library’ by Edward Wilson-Lee

    June 25th, 2020
    by

    First, some housekeeping: Hernando Colón (1488-1539), illegitimate son of Christopher Columbus, is the main subject of this book, and this is the Portuguese version of his name.


    Royall Education Notes: Staff, students met numerous challenges during closure

    June 24th, 2020
    by

    Wow – Wow – Wow – What a crazy couple of months we have endured.


  • Archives