The Paying Guests (Hardcover)

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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.

About the Author

Sarah Waters is the New York Times–bestselling author of The Little Stranger, The Night Watch, Fingersmith, Affinity, and Tipping the Velvet. She has three times been short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, twice been a finalist for the Orange Prize, and was named one of Granta’s best young British novelists, among other distinctions. Waters lives in London.

Praise for The Paying Guests…

Praise for The Paying Guests

An Amazon Best Book of 2014
A Barnes & Noble Top Book for the Holiday Season

A Hudson Booksellers Best Book of the Year
Kirkus Best Fiction of 2014
PopSugar's #1 Book of 2014

“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… [The Paying Guests] is a magnificent creation, a book that doubles as a time machine, flinging us back not only to postwar London, but also to our own lost love affairs, the kind that left us breathless” —NPR

“A beautifully observed tale of murder, suspense, crumbling class distinctions and steamy lesbian love in post-Edwardian London. Like something Virginia Woolf might have written if she’d been racier” —People

“You open The Paying Guests and immediately surrender to the smooth assuredness of Sarah Waters’s silken prose... You cannot choose but read. The book has you in thrall. You will follow Waters and her story anywhere… A novel that initially seems as if it might have been written by E.M. Forster darkens into something by Dostoevsky or Patricia Highsmith. It also becomes unputdownable … the reader is in for a seriously heart-pounding roller-coaster ride.”The Washington Post

“[Waters] masterfully weaves true crime, domestic life and romantic passion into one of the best novels of suspense since Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca… [The Paying Guests is] diabolically clever… with one of the hottest sex scenes ever to be set in a scullery.” Los Angeles Times

“Pitch perfect… powered by queer longing, defiant identity politics, and lusty, occasionally downright kinky sex” Slate

“[A] tour de force of precisely observed period detail and hidden passions.”  Wall Street Journal

“It's been a while since a book kept me up until 3:30 a.m., but The Paying Guests grabbed me and would not let me go…The wonderfully melodramatic plot, the brilliant characterization of protagonist Frances Wray, the vivid depiction of the zeitgeist in post-WWI London -- each of these elements was equally responsible for the kidnapping of this unsuspecting reader, as masterminded by British novelist Sarah Waters, a three-time Booker Prize finalist.” Newsday

“A delicious hothouse of a novel…There's palpable tension from page one, so buckle up and prepare for a wild ride…The Paying Guests channels the past via E.M. Forster, Dickens and Tolstoy, quickened with a dollop of contemporary Dennis Lehane noir…This is a fever dream of a novel — Waters' best — that will leave you all wrung out. Perhaps, like Frances, in desperate need of a cigarette.” USA Today

“Waters turns to the 1920s and delivers what feels like three novels for the price of one…a meticulously observed comedy of awkward manners … a story of torrid, forbidden trysts conducted behind a facade of conventional feminine respectability…[and] a tense tale of crime, mystery and suspense that culminates in a nail-biting courtroom drama…Exceedingly difficult to put down, The Paying Guests should scratch the same big-novel itch that Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch satisfied last year.” Salon

“If you haven’t already embraced the novels of Sarah Waters, now is the moment. Don’t think twice. Collect all six and devour them with the same feverish abandon of the lovers who can be found between their covers…[The Paying Guests]  is no romance novel or mere thriller, but a well-wrought, closely observed drama of a tumultuous period in British history… Herein lies the deliciousness of this book, and the others Waters has written: As much as Frances longs to give her heart to someone who will cherish it, we can never be sure, when she opens the final door, whether she will find the lady or the gallows.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“The new Sarah Waters novel, which finds the author at the height of her powers, weaves her characteristic threads of historical melodrama, lesbian romance, class tension, and sinister doings into a fabric of fictional delight that alternately has the reader flipping pages as quickly as possible, to find out what happens next, and hesitating to turn the page, for fear of what will happen next.” —Boston Globe

“A gold mine of period detail, from class snobbery to sex – but with a timeless urgency when it comes to love.” Vogue

“A beautiful and turbulent novel about the complexity, and often futility, of personal and social change… Waters has not only crafted a vivid portrait of class dissolution in post-WWI London, but also a look at the achingly human need for a sense of purpose and, if we’re lucky, a little intimacy.” —A.V. Club  (A- grade)

“Sarah Waters is so skillful that the reader (to borrow a simile from Lilian and Frances' love affair) softens in her hands like wax: It's impossible to think critically about technique or style or plot — or do anything but turn the next page. The Paying Guests makes for a transporting, even rapturous, reading experience.” —

"Waters always writes well about sex and her new novel is no exception: It's both hot and sensually beautiful, transcending cheap cliché." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"A great book captivates you — pulls you in as though you have fallen somewhere into the plot. Author Sarah Waters is a master of this premise — a heady task she proves in her latest historical novel, The Paying Guests. Waters takes readers on a journey through the past — we begin reading late at night, only to find ourselves eyes-wide-open, completing the book in the early dawn… pining for her next thriller.”  —The Weekender

“[A] pulse-pounder of a novel that feels…personal and raw…even while it delivers the genre goods…Waters remains a master of her genre, the historical novel rewritten as a dissection of the individual conscience… undeniably fascinating.” —The Chicago Tribune

“The Paying Guests is a richly sensual and suspenseful historical novel — sleek and streamlined” Columbus Dispatch

“Lesbian sex, brutal murder and frantic cover-ups don’t tend to go hand in hand with subtle slow-burn storytelling. But that’s exactly the case in Sarah Waters’s captivating new novel, The Paying Guests…To say anything more would be a disservice to Waters’s masterful narrative. But suffice it to say that a terrible thing occurs, the women’s relationship is tested and you will be the crazy person staying up until 2 a.m. to see how it all comes together.”

“The first three hundred pages of Guests belong to Charles Dickens, but the rest of the book reads like pure, uncut Patricia Highsmith. Waters brings the best of those disparate muses together and convinces them to dance to the tune of her beautiful music.”

“Marvelous… absorbing…[and] delicious” — National Post

“Far more than a tale of passion… 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

“Compelling and richly-written.” —Northern Echo

“The novel brilliantly evokes the shabby respectability and claustrophobic social demands of its post-war south London setting, and the conflicting emotions of its protagonists and star-crossed lovers” —Quadrapheme

“One of Waters's finest achievements lies in continuing to entice the reader through deft plotting, even as her characters grow arguably more human”—Literary Review (UK)

“It's easy to get so caught up in this quiet tale of suburban sapphic passion that you forget who's masterminding it. Waters is at her best when she sends the plot on dizzying twists, and what seems at first to be a novel about repressed desire soon spirals madly into murder, adultery and betrayal… an absorbing read, rich in period detail and complex characters.” —The List (UK)

“With the intricate plotting of Dickens and the gothic textures of the novels of the Bronte sisters, Waters blurs the lines of Victorian fiction by bringing the hidden sexual world into the light, reframing erotic secrets in marvels of pseudo-Victorian crafting… exquisite” The Australian

"So brilliantly unexpected, and so nerve-shreddingly tense, that it keeps the reader guessing until the very last paragraph” The Bookseller (UK)

“Will keep you turning the page to see just how tense things can get.” LibraryReads

"Breathtaking." Publishers Weekly, PW Picks Book of the Week

"An exquisitely tuned exploration of class in post-Edwardian Britain—with really hot sex…Tension is high from the first paragraph…Waters is a master of pacing, and her metaphor-laced prose is a delight…until the last page, the reader will have no idea what’s going to happen. Waters keeps getting better, if that’s even possible after the sheer perfection of her earlier novels.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“An absorbing character study [and] expertly paced and gripping psychological narrative…Readers of Water’s previous novels know that she brings historical eras to life with consummate skill, rendering authentic details into layered portraits of particular times and places…breathtaking” —Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

“Moody and atmospheric, this latest from three-time Booker Prize finalist Waters (The Little Stranger) has a rich historical setting…[and] keeps you guessing until the very end” —Library Journal


Product Details ISBN-10: 1594633118
ISBN-13: 9781594633119
Published: Riverhead Hardcover, 09/16/2014
Pages: 576
Language: English
Recommended Reading Level Minimum Age: 18
Maximum Age: UP
Minimum Grade Level: College Freshman
Maximum Grade Level: Up

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