The Paying Guests
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