Historical fiction is perfect for some people, but not for me.
As a habit, I tend not to pick up any books that are largely set before about the 1980s unless they’re memoirs, about some aspect of a war that hasn’t been written about to death, or contain magic. I wouldn’t have picked up this book personally, although I have had an eye on a couple of Sarah Waters books that came highly recommended. It’s not that specifically have anything against historical fiction, it just doesn’t tend to be the type of book that I enjoy reading. And, personally speaking, I would have been right to leave this one alone.
The blurb boasts a love story that’s also a crime story about a woman and her daughter who take in an exciting married couple as lodgers. In Sarah Waters style, there are lesbian sex scenes – so maybe don’t read this one on the bus like I was. But, it took about half the book before you got to the crime, and I couldn’t help but feel like a lot of the scenes were just about filling space rather than anything else.
600 pages could have very easily been 300, and nobody would have missed out any of the storyline. The storyline itself was pretty interesting and kept me reading till the end out of a desire to find out what happened to the characters – which is why it got two stars and not one – but it took so long to get there. I’m a person that reads up to about 3 books a week, but this took me 3 weeks on its own.
While I was reading this I met a librarian at work, we had a discussion about books while waiting for her payment to process, and I mentioned to her that I was reading a book by Sarah Waters. In the usual fashion, she told me that Waters was fantastic and how she absolutely loved the books of hers she’d read before. The goodreads reviews were the same, although some of them said they’d come to the book because they’d loved Fingersmith or another of her books and had felt let down. When I went to Waterstones to pick my mum up a badge, it was in the paperback fiction charts.
The right kind of person will adore this book. I am not that person.
If you enjoyed this book, you may want to read:
• The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern (Highly recommended, if you only read one of my recommendations, make it this one!)
• The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton
• The Somnambulist – Essie Fox