The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Sarah Waters ( and is a Welsh born novelist best known for her first novel, Tipping the Velvet (1998). In 2002, this novel was adapted into a three-part television series of the same name for BBC 2. If Victorian lesbian cunnilingus holds any appeal for you, the novel and DVD ( would make for a fine Christmas gift. Novels that followed, include Affinity (1999), Fingersmith (2002), and The Night Watch (2006).

The latest from Waters is The Paying Guests (2014). The summary is as follows. It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa — a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants — life is about to be transformed as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers. With the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the ‘clerk class’, the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. Little do the Wrays know just how profoundly their new tenants will alter the course of Frances’s life — or, as passions mount and frustration gathers, how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be. Transport yourself to South London during the twenties and find out what happens.

608 pages in Virago Press paperback edition

First published 2014

ISBN 978-0349004600

Sarah Waters

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