The Paying Guests

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by Sarah Waters

The year is 1922, and the atmosphere in London is strained. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned, and the unemployed and hungry are clamouring for change. And in South London, life is about to change in an elegant Camberwell villa—a vast, silent home suddenly devoid of brothers, husbands, and even servants—as destitute widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are forced to take in lodgers. The entrance of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a sophisticated young couple from the "clerk class," will throw the house's rituals into disarray. Little do the Wrays realise how deeply their new tenants will impact Frances' life—or how far-reaching, and heartbreaking, the disruptions will be as tensions rise and frustration grows.

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I barely knew I had skin before I met you.

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I barely knew I had skin before I met you.

— Sarah Waters, The Paying Guests