The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

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Royal Format. 


It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned, the out-of-work are demanding change. And in a genteel house in the south of the city, its inhabitants still recovering from the devastating losses of the First World War, life is about to be transformed.

Widowed Mrs Wray and her daughter, Frances - an unmarried woman with an interesting past, now on her way to becoming a spinster - find themselves obliged to take in lodgers.

The arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a young couple of the 'clerk-class', brings unsettling things with it: gramophone music, colour, fun. Open doors offer Frances glimpses of the newcomers' habits, and the staircase and landing have never seemed to her so busy.

As she and Lilian are drawn into an unexpected friendship, loyalties begin to shift. Secrets are confessed, dangerous desires admitted; the most extraordinary of lives, it seems, can explode into passion and drama.