The Pay­ing Guests

Herizons - - Arts & Culture -

Sarah Wa­ters

McClel­land and Stewart

Re­view by Kerry Ryan It’s wrong to com­pare The Pay­ing Guests, the lat­est novel from Man Booker Prize fi­nal­ist Sarah Wa­ters, to Down­ton Abbey, but I can’t help it.The sim­i­lar­i­ties are mostly cir­cum­stan­tial: women in post­war Eng­land try­ing to rec­on­cile a jolly olde class sys­tem with jazz-age fem­i­nism.

The Pay­ing Guests deals with en­tirely dif­fer­ent so­cioe­co­nomic cir­cum­stances than the lush pe­riod TV se­ries, but it too peeks un­der the fa­cade and bed­sheets of pro­pri­ety.And it’s just as melo­dra­matic.

Our pro­tag­o­nist, Frances Wray, is shock­ingly un­mar­ried and liv­ing a dreary ex­is­tence with her mother. While there are hints at a free­wheel­ing, out­spo­ken past, Frances’s cur­rent life is sepia-toned—con­ven­tional and dull.Her broth­ers have been killed in the war, and her fa­ther’s re­cent death—and the in­ep­ti­tude which pre­ceded it—have left

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