I arrived home from a relaxing, tropical vacation a few days ago.
One of my personal earmarks of a good trip is what I got to read while I was away. Not only is it nice to get lost in a novel while you’re traveling to your destination, it’s also fun to have something to do during the inevitable parts of any trip where you have some free time to spare.
Luckily, I got to lose myself in a great book during those lulls in activity.
Those of you who have known me for a while might remember that Sarah Waters is one of my favourite non-science-fiction authors. A few years ago she released a book called The Paying Guests.
Without giving away any spoilers, The Paying Guests is set in roughly the World War I era. It’s about a formerly-wealthy family who must take in lodgers to help them pay the bills after their fortunes take a turn for the worse. Their adjustment to suddenly sharing their home with complete strangers is an incredibly difficult one for reasons you’ll have to discover for yourself. If you’ve read this author’s work before, you might be able to guess what at least one of those reasons are. The rest were harder to figure out ahead of time.
Humorously enough, I originally tried to read this book on a previous vacation a year or two ago. The trip ended before I could finish it, though, and I didn’t keep reading it because the first few chapters were paced so slowly. I was looking for something more adventurous at the time.
I finally decided to give it another try during this get-away. I knew I was going to have plenty of time to dig into a good story during it, and I was sure the plot would pick up once the characters had all had a chance to fully introduce themselves. Ms. Waters often makes her readers wait a while for the payoff. She’s never disappointed me before. Luckily, I was right about all of those things.
The atmosphere of this book was old-fashioned, straight-laced, and full of delicious mysteries. Of course, it also included a sweet romance that took a while to show up but felt completely natural for the plot once it did. The whole storyline couldn’t have been more different from the modern, casual, and sunny place I was visiting while I read it.
I haven’t finished it yet, but I’ve sure been loving what I’ve read so far. It’s hard to talk about it without giving away too many details, but this is classic Sarah Waters material. The crumbling but still somehow beautiful mansion is just as appealing to me as all of the secrets the characters are carrying in their hearts.
I love reading stories that are the polar opposite of my current surroundings. It makes both the real world and the fictional one I’m exploring seem more interesting than they’d be if they shared a lot of similarities.
This blog doesn’t host comments, but I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading lately if you’re on Twitter. I will be talking about this book and what other people like to read when they’re on vacation over there today.