There is this woman I work with who somehow knows a part of me that even I don’t quite understand. She is the woman who handed me Station Eleven. All the new books go through her and she is like some sort of oracle that hands them out to the people who she knows on some deep psychic level will love them. All this is to say that when she handed me The Paying Guests, I should have started reading it sooner.
I had never heard of Sarah Waters (or the name didn’t ring any bells though she HAS BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT ON THIS VERY BLOG), the cover didn’t interest me very much (I KNOW) and from what I gathered by reading the back this was not an apocalypse story. Not even close. It was set post-World War I in England and look, I am a professional Downton Abbey recapper and there is only so much post-war England a girl can handle, especially when no one is paying her. But then I saw someone somewhere saying: “Oh read this book” so I did and the Book Wizard once again turned out to be correct.
The Paying Guests has just about every single thing you could want in a book that doesn’t contain the future end of times by environmental disaster or plague. There is romance, there is super-hot sexiness, there is deception, there is crime, there is roller skating and there is, of course, a lot of tea drinking. Another thing that this book has going for it is it’s length. At way over 500 pages, unless you either don’t have a job or are some sort of speed reader, it’s nearly impossible to read this all in one day. I, employed with people who expect me to do things beyond laying prone on my couch, stayed up too late four nights in a row reading this book, only to fall asleep, wake up and lug it with me everywhere I went. What’s great about a long book that is also good is that you can really get into the world of it, feel satisfied by it. When I love a book I tend to devour it, like your bed bugs devour you when you’ve been gone for a week (I hope you don’t understand what I mean there). I suck it up as quickly as possible, barely savoring the taste of the blood. But even though I read The Paying Guests quickly, I couldn’t help but become immersed in it, bathed in its blood if you will (what the fuck am I talking about now and WHO IS THE BED BUG?).
Anyway, don’t be worried by the Victorian-ness of the title, cover or subject matter. This book is great to the very last page. Read it now.