Read IN BED: The Paying Guests

Words & Images by Hannah-Rose Yee

“She had the tricked, trapped feeling she’d sometimes had with men in the past, the sense that, through no act of her own, she had become a figure of fun, and that whatever she did said now would only make her more of one.” Sarah Waters, The Paying Guests

I’ve come to Sarah Waters completely dry: no backstory whatsoever, I’ve never read any of her other insanely popular books, I’ve never seen the miniseries for Fingersmith, never even really heard of her before, well, hearing about her and this book. Not the way I normally come to books, to be honest. I’m a creature of reading habit and I tend to read my favourite authors, their favourite authors and their favourite authors.

Oh, but I recommend it in this case. Not knowing anything about her made this book all the more exciting, all the more thrilling. It’s about a mother and her spinster daughter living in genteel poverty (my favourite kind) after World War I on the outskirts of London. They take in a pair of bohemian, lower class lodgers – the paying guests of the title – who proceed to shake things up in the household. I read it over a lonely, empty weekend when I had the house all to myself. No distractions. I recommend shutting yourself up for a weekend with only this book, some thick duvet covers, and a never-ending supply of tea. You won’t be able to put it down.