Miss Allen – History

The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters

When and where did you read this book?
My mum and I drove to London for a family event a few years ago and she had downloaded the audiobook for us to listen to on the journey. We both loved it.
How many times have you read it?
Just that one time but now I feel like I want to go back and re-read it!
Who or what introduced you to this book?
Sarah Waters is one of my favourite authors and I have read all her books.
Can you give a brief outline of the book?
Set in London in 1922, it focuses on Frances, a young, middle-class woman who is forced to take in lodgers after she loses all the men in her family during the First World War. The story switches from the blossoming relationship between the two women in the book to a crime novel mid-way. That post-war period, when the old constraints of class and gender were disappearing is brilliantly captured in the novel.
What made you choose this as your favourite book?
My mum passed away a few years ago, as did my Nan and one thing I miss is how we used to always swap books between us and recommend authors that we all loved. Often what makes a book special is it’s not just about the story but where you were when you read it and what it means to you.
Are there any other books by the author you would recommend?
All of them. As a history teacher, I love historical fiction but am too critical of anything that isn’t accurate! The attention to detail and evocation of the past in her novels is fantastic. ‘Fingersmith’ also has one of the best plot-twists ever.
What other books did you consider before choosing this one?
I am a prolific reader and could have chosen hundreds! Anything by Sue Townsend (The Adrian Mole books are genius), Robert Cormier (one of the best young adult writers there is) or Ann Patchett maybe.
What book(s) are you currently reading? 
Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta.