Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sarah Waters

Most lesbians know Sarah Waters as the wonderfully talented novelist behind literary gems such as 'Tipping the Velvet' and 'Fingersmith'. Both of these novels put, in my opinion, lesbian writing in the mainstream. She's won numerous awards for her writing, and both of the novels mentioned above, as well as 'Affinity' have all been adapted for television. So, when I heard, many months back that Sarah had penned a new novel, due out in about Aug/September, I quivered with excitement and prepared to book my copy.

Her latest offering is called The Little Stranger, and it's set in the 1940s in rural Warwickshire. More intriguingly, it's billed as a 'chilling ghost story'. 'Affinity' - while not a ghost story, had a 'supernatural' element to it. The sexual tension between the main characters in Affinity kept me turning the pages rapidly.

Waters can pretty much write anything, you see, and a host of lesbian fans will buy her work. But this time, I have to confess to feeling a little let down. Make no mistake, The Little Stranger is a wonderful read. I took it away with me over the long weekend and devoured it in a day or two. She is a masterful storyteller. But, I did feel disappointed that Caroline Ayres, one of the main characters, was not lesbian. There were little indications early on that she was. Waters, I felt, teased us along, and then revealed about mid-way that that wasn't the route she was taking us along.


I've just watched an interview with Waters (via this link) where she admits that she's spent a lot of time apologising to lesbians for the fact that there's no gay character in the book.

She said however of Caroline that she's clearly not your run-of-the-mill, mainstream heterosexual protagonist: "So in a way, The Little Stranger is a queer book, which I hope will sit more comfortably alongside my more obviously lesbian novels."

The bottom line, is that I enjoyed the novel and highly recommend you give it a try. And ultimately (and see if you agree once you've read it) I do think Caroline is a dyke! :-)

Oh and of her new novel, which is yet to be written, Waters says she may look at the pre-war period of the 1920's and 30's. Please Sarah, put in a lesbian character... !