I had a little grumble when I finished this book – I didn’t want to write a review. 90% of the time, I have the first (and sometimes the second!) paragraph composed in my head before I’ve finished the final chapter of a book – but not this time. I hate having to say I don’t like a book because I’m conscious of how much passion, effort and energy an author puts into the thousands and thousands of words within the story. So I’m at that guilty stage where I’m typing my honest opinions but sadly aware how much it would crush the author if she saw these words.
This is a love story which crosses into the crime genre when one of the main characters is killed. It’s the tale of a powerful bond between two women – Frances and Lilian. When Frances and her mother rent out some rooms to a young married couple – Lilian and Leonard -neither of them realise how their lives will change. Set in the 1920s, this plot describes a relationship which would have shocked many. I wasn’t particularly blown away by the romance – I found it overly intense and the intimate scenes were an uncomfortable read but that’s probably down to my usual taste in books and my own personality.
The reason I picked this book up was due to a number of people suggesting it was a good romance/thriller combo. I disagree, this is by no means a thriller. There’s no mystery to the crime – the reader is aware of the events prior to the trial. The only slight thrill was whether or not the killer got away with it and an innocent man went to jail instead. I had no adrenaline moments or shock gasps from a plot twist, which left me sulkily flicking through the pages.
Gosh – this all sounds terribly negative! Something that I did like about the story were the characters – they were all well balanced and developed – even the background characters such as Chrissie and Lilian’s family members were written in such a way that I could fully picture them in my head. Being fully developed doesn’t mean I liked each of the characters – I found Frances personality particularly irritating, she came across as someone who always needed to be in control, rather bossy and always needing to ‘know’ everything. I’ve just managed to make a positive seem negative!
One aspect that I can’t turn into a negative was my love for the period setting, I always enjoy reading a tale set in the past because it adds a further level of intrigue; i.e. it’s not perhaps how we, in today’s world, would approach many of the dilemmas within the chapters so it becomes a learning experience to understand how it might have been handled in that era.
All in all, I can’t fault Waters’ writing technique – she really creates a story that flows and the characters are well developed, I just found myself underwhelmed by the plot and I struggled to finish it. Perhaps I should give another one of her books ago? Let me know if any of you out there have read her books and whether or not they have the same ‘vibe’ as The Paying Guests?
Until next time, Chloé x