Maureen Corrigan reviews The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. The novel opens in 1922 in the ‘suburban backwater’ of London, where Frances Wray and her mother have fallen from the middle class and must take ‘paying guests’ into their home to stay afloat.
"The Paying Guests is no simple period piece. As alert as Waters is to historical detail, she’s also a superb storyteller with a gift for capturing the layered nuances of character and mood. Any reader familiar with Waters’ earlier novels like Tipping the Velvet will know that she’s especially drawn to the subject of lesbian relationships. What’s so immediately compelling about our protagonist, Frances Wray, is that, in a way that doesn’t seem at all anachronistic, she’s comfortable in her own queer skin. It’s most of the rest of the world — and, tragically, some of the people in her own house — who have serious problems with Frances and her so-called “unnatural” sexuality.”