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The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane
  

Sarah Broadhurst's view...

Ruth is a widow in her seventies living alone in a house near a beach in Australia. She’s coping okay but her family are beginning to worry about her. Early one morning she becomes convinced a tiger is prowling round her house and phones her son in New Zealand. The next day a government carer, Frida, comes to help her. Frida quickly establishes dominance over Ruth. The author gives us a fine portrait of Ruth’s crumbling independence as Frida takes more and more control of her life. There are a few sub plots but it is Ruth and Frida’s relationship that is the meat of this story. As a reader we can see what’s coming. Ruth, of course, cannot so the eventual shock is truly sad, in a well written, frighteningly believable tale.

If you like Fiona McFarlane you might also like to read books by Joanna Trollope, Lionel Shriver and Maggie O'Farrell.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst

Synopsis

The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane

In an isolated house on the New South Wales coast, Ruth - a widow whose sons work abroad - lives alone. Until one day a stranger bowls up, announcing that she's been sent by the authorities to be Ruth's carer. At first, Ruth is happy to have the company. Frida is efficient and helpful, and willing to listen to Ruth's stories about her childhood in Fiji and the man she fell for there. But why does Ruth hear a tiger prowling through the house at night? How far can Ruth trust this enigmatic woman? And how far can she trust herself? This hypnotic tale soars above its own suspense to tell us, with exceptional grace and beauty, about ageing, love, dependence, fear and power, and about the mysterious workings of the mind. Here is a dazzling new writer, reminding us how powerfully fiction can speak to our innermost secrets.

Reviews

An enrapturing debut novel that toys with magical realism while delivering a fresh fable... McFarlane's rendering of Ruth's interior is quiet and exacting, and she builds suspense so gently that the danger is, at first, hardly noticeable... A pleasurable novel, with turns of plot and phrase both startling and elegant. - Kirkus

An extraordinary novel. At once a tender thriller and an exquisitely constructed meditation on time and memory, it is propelled by sentence after sentence of masterful prose. With The Night Guest, Fiona McFarlane announces herself as a writer to be read, admired, and read again. -- Kevin Powers

An extraordinary book in which the heroine, Ruth, not yet aware that isolation is a dangerous luxury, exchanges the world's turmoil for silence, in the hope that the essence of things will reveal a small part of its mystery. It is deeply disturbing, and exquisitely written - full of joy and melancholy - and I willingly accept that I will be haunted by its beauty and its truths for a long time to come. The story is told with a certain inevitability, yet at the same time, it surprises, confounds, and torments. It can't be! I kept thinking, when all the while, I knew, of course, that it was just what I feared - a rapturous, fearsome fable of grief and love. -- Susanna Moore

The Night Guest is such an accomplished and polished debut. There's a delicacy and poignancy to the writing, combined with almost unbearable suspense. I love books in which I have no idea what's going to happen next! -- Kate Atkinson, author of Behind the Scenes at the Museum

About the Author

Fiona McFarlane was born in Sydney, has a BA from Sydney University and a PhD from Cambridge University, and holds an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a Michener Fellow and won the university's prestigious Keene Prize for Literature in 2012. Her work has been published in Zoetrope: All-Story, Southerly, The Missouri Review, and Best Australian Stories, and she has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Phillips Exeter Academy, and the Australia Council for the Arts.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th November 1999

Author

Fiona McFarlane

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Publisher

Format

Hardback

Categories

Relationship Stories
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ISBN

9781444776676

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