I just finished reading two books that I consider “iffy.” I can’t exactly recommend them to others without some qualifiers. It’s not that they make for bad reading. They don’t. Both are actually very well written. It’s just that I feel compelled to use the “if” word. Stay with me and I think you’ll see what I mean.
The Mad Woman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell is set in modern times. It involves a young American woman attending Old College in Cambridge. She is treated a differently because her last name is Whipple. Samantha Whipple is believed to be the last living member of the Bronte family. Strange things appear to happen to Samantha because of her famous relatives. A woman who is head of the maths department is a little off and also seems to hate Samantha; Samantha is assigned to a handsome tutor who’s also a little off, and old books show up mysteriously in her room. Every person, every event in the book is related to one or all of the Bronte sisters. This would probably be an excellent story IF I were a Bronte fan. I’m not. So, IF you are a fan of Charlotte, Anne or Emily, then I can recommend this book to you.
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters is a beautiful, well written and well received novel. It’s been on best seller lists and on numerous award lists. It’s historical fiction set in England in the 1920s. I should have liked it, but I didn’t. I just can’t suggest it without qualifications. The main character, Francis, and her mother are in such dire straights after the war. All the sons in the family were killed and the father died leaving their finances in ruin. All that is left is their very grand house in the suburbs of London. Their only solution is to accept boarders, or as they call it, paying guests.
A young couple moved in and everything changed. First it’s the uncomfortableness of having strangers in your home. The husband made Francis feel uncomfortable, but the wife does not. In fact, Francis, a closet lesbian, falls in love with the wife. About half-way through there are some catastrophic events that occur that are really quite tragic. I thought the story petered out after that.
Read The Paying Guests IF you are okay with sad and somewhat depressed characters, a lesbian love story and gruesome thrillers.
I know that others enjoyed both of these books, so please read other reviews about these two books. I’m sure it’s just me.