Little Stranger

Little Stranger

by Candia McWilliam

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A contemporary The Turn of the Screw , McWilliam's slim second novel (after A Case of Knives ) did very well in England, but may be less successful here. There is no mistaking, however, that this is the work of a talented writer. Precisely articulated, carefully structured and tightly controlled, the story is narrated by Daisy, the young wife of a rich man living on a country estate, who hires Margaret Price as a nanny for her little boy. Addicted to wearing cute clothes decorated with adorable animals, Margaret seems an exemplary nanny, even, Daisy convinces herself, ``perfection.'' In the languid torpor of a new pregnancy, complicated by a deep-seated depression about her place in the world and ``a perverse will to be polite at any cost,'' Daisy blinds herself to the dangerous character of super-efficient, humorless Margaret--until it is almost too late. McWilliam gives Daisy a sardonic voice, appropriate to her trenchant asides about behavior in the top strata of British society; these mordant observations grant the novel its edge. Although tautly measured to achieve mounting tension, the narrative is, in the end, a little too mannered and pretentious, and Daisy too self-centered to win the reader's sympathy. (July )
Library Journal
Despite misgivings, narrator Daisy hires Margaret to care for her small son and to simplify life in her affluent, modern country house. As Daisy grows lumpy and unattractive in pregnancy, the slim, competent Margaret obviously plans to usurp Daisy's place in the affections of child and husband alike. Elegant British prose, rich with allusions to food, supports the standard nanny-loves-the-master story until the plot twists abruptly; the situation indeed is ``a little stranger'' than Daisy has admitted. Both women are afflicted with eating disorders; they view themselves and each other through illusion; and one of them is quite mad and dangerous. Good beach reading for public library patrons.-- Maurice Taylor, Brunswick Cty. Lib., Southport, N.C.

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Bloomsbury UK
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