I’m a massive Sarah Waters fan and I bought this when it first came out- so I have no idea why it took me a year to read it!
The novel takes place in the early 1920s, when the aftershocks of World War I are still being keenly felt. Frances and her mother live in a slowly decaying house, their finances suffering after the deaths of Frances’ brothers and father. In desperation, they take in a married couple- the Barbers- as lodgers. After a while, a relationship develops between Frances and Lilian Barber, which goes well until a horrible murder takes place on their doorstep.
I did enjoy the novel- I think Waters is a fantastic writer of historical fiction (her books The Fingersmith and The Night Watch are amongst two of my all-time favourites)- but it was a slow starter. However, once it got going, it was gripping. For me, Waters is amazing at creating an emotional landscape that takes the reader on the same journey as her characters.
It was well worth sticking with and I’d definitely recommend it (although go for the paperback. It’s a hefty book.)