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Saturday 11 April 2015


Review: Sarah Waters' The Paying Guests

Posted in: Books
By Jacqui Stanford - 29th September 2014

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Girl meets girl. Girl falls for girl. But of course with Sarah Waters nothing is ever quite so simple and in The Paying Guests she offers up another page-turner packed with lesbian love in a time well before we blazed out of the shadows.

The writer who gave us lesbian bookshelf musts like Fingersmith and Tipping the Velvet has set her latest novel in 1920s London, when Frances Wray and her widow mother desperately need cash, so they take a young couple into their home as lodgers.

Frances, of course, has a secret. Something much more interesting than the dull chore-filled affair her life has become. The new arrivals throw that on its head. Cue a crush. Cue tantalisingly minute moments of understanding amidst stirring feelings. Cue forbidden love. And of course, cue shovelled heap after shovelled heap of drama.

Like everything Sarah Waters writes, it’s incredibly hot and utterly melodramatic full of characters you alternately feel empathy for and want to throttle.

Once you get into the major movement of the story you won’t want to put it down until you know how it all ends. You could be in for a late night because the process fills a lot of pages. But quite simply, The Paying Guests is another example of what Sarah Waters does, and does so addictively well: women, sex, drama and an exorbitant amount of underclothing.

The Paying Guests is out now.


Jacqui Stanford - 29th September 2014

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