Two Little Strange Storys


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The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds.

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Home Job. Menu go. Follow the Irish Examiner. View this post on Instagram. News Daily Headlines Receive our lunchtime briefing straight to your inbox. So there are lots of tensions and frustrations, all bubbling away under the surface…. Faraday begins to get to know the family one summer, when he is called out to the Hall to treat Betty for a minor ailment.

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But his relationship with Hundreds predates that visit: his mother was once a servant there, and he has vivid memories of seeing the Hall as a ten year-old boy, when the house and its gardens were still glorious. His friendship with the family is complicated, however, by his lingering class resentments, by his growing attraction to Caroline — and more importantly, by the oddness and drama of events that begin to occur in the house as the hot summer gives way to a dark and gloomy winter.

What happens at Hundreds Hall that makes some of the characters believe it is haunted?


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And without giving away too many surprises, what effect does it have on the family? The family is left in a demoralized state after a shocking incident at a party. Roderick seems particularly badly affected, becoming anxious and secretive, and while Dr. Faraday believes his behaviour to have its roots in nervous exhaustion, there are hints that there may be something odder at work — possibly something supernatural. Betty, the maid, believes the house to be haunted; Caroline is uneasy; Mrs.

Ayres is troubled with memories of her first child, Susan — a daughter who died many years before. At last even Dr. Britain was undergoing great social and political change in the postwar period, which you connect to the difficulties of the Ayres family. What was happening in British society at this time? It was a time of real transformation.

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The Second World War was a national trauma, but it was also in many ways fantastically liberating. During the war, the British class structure got a bit of a shake up. The return to peacetime saw ordinary people wanting a better deal for themselves and their families: decent housing, education, and health care. Men and women who might once have gone into domestic service were now able to find better-paid jobs, and more independence, in new post-war industries. They were supported by the Labour party, which came to power on the back of an astonishing landslide victory in For the upper classes, an old way of life had disappeared: the world seemed to be sliding into chaos.

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Novels and diaries of the period are full of angst about the situation — an angst which unfortunately often manifests itself as snobbery, as a fear and loathing of working-class people. Medicine is changing as well, as Britain moves to establish a National Health Service for the first time. How does this affect Dr.


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  8. Yes, this was one of the great successes of the post-war Labour government: the granting of free medical treatment, by right, to every British citizen. Until then, doctors had had to run their practices as businesses, in competition with local rivals. So he has ambivalent feelings about all the social changes, just as the Ayreses have. What role does social class play in this novel, particularly in the relationship between Dr. Faraday and Caroline Ayres? Faraday is a working-class boy who has been put through medical school on grants and scholarships. He has worked hard to get where he is, and is still ambitious, but he has a residual sense of inferiority and class resentment.

    So his relationship with Caroline is a complicated one. By contrast, Betty, the put-upon Hundreds servant, has no surname. And though there were plenty of female doctors in the period, they were still unusual enough to cause tension, especially in rural communities, and I wanted the main conflicts here to be about class rather than gender. I found myself responding differently to the other characters through him. It made writing about desire, for example, very different. In my earlier book, my female narrators necessarily experience their desire for other women in rather furtive, troubled ways.

    Also, this is your first novel that does not include major lesbian and gay characters. Was there any particular significance to that decision? No — it just turned out that way. But this story just came along and took hold of my imagination, and it was very clearly not a story with a lesbian element. Caroline is not your average feminine woman; Roderick, in a sense, is more feminised than she is; and Dr. I like the idea of it, in other words — but not the reality. Faraday mentions the superstitions of many of the poor people he treats — beliefs that seem outlandish to us today.

    How does this environment affect his reaction to what is happening at Hundreds Hall? I spent quite a while trying to find a name for the Hall. So the name made geographical sense — but, more than that, it had the right kind of resonance, with its suggestions of size, of age, and of obsolescence.

    I borrowed bits I liked — such as the octagonal drawing-room, which is the sort of room you might easily find in a house of that age. But I also took some liberties! Ultimately, Hundreds is like all the houses of gothic fiction: a psychological structure as well as a bricks-and-mortar one; a place of secrets, half-memories, and lurking threats. The biggest challenge was the setting.

    All my books before this one were set in London, which I know very well. The Little Stranger has a rural setting, and though I grew up in the country, I soon realized that I had a very dim grasp on how the countryside looks and feels at different times of the year! So I looked at histories of rural life, and I read Warwickshire newspapers of the time, to see what the preoccupations of the area would have been. I also listened to sound recordings of Warwickshire voices: the British Library in London, luckily, has a great collection of oral histories on tape.

    I did some research into country houses, too — finding ones that resembled my fictional Hundreds Hall and, if I could, visiting them. I also, of course, read books about the paranormal — about ghosts and poltergeists. That was fun, if a little spooky. After a while I began to fear that I was thinking so hard about supernatural manifestations, I would actually conjure one up…. Not really. Why are the weird events centered on them? What repressions and conflicts are being brought to the surface?

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    Questions like that are at the heart of The Little Stranger. Were there any particular works of literature that influenced you as you wrote this book? I read lots of post-war British novels as part of my research, and I was struck by how many of them are preoccupied with the social changes of the day, even if on the surface they are quite other sorts of books — crime novels or romances or stories of family life. Two writers who had a particular influence on me are Angela Thirkell and Josephine Tey. With The Little Stranger , I wanted to take on that cosy, bigoted British landscape and, by injecting something dark and dangerous into it, sort of watch it self-destruct… Jospehine Tey was a crime writer — again, amazingly readable and a great story-teller, but thoroughly conservative.

    My starting-point for The Little Stranger was her novel The Franchise Affair , in which a working-class teenage girl accuses a reclusive middle-class mother and daughter of having abducted and imprisoned her. Share: Share on Facebook. Add to Cart. Sarah Waters made the Granta list for

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