It is 1922, and times are tough for the residents of this formerly well-off village of Camberwell, in England. A Champion Hill estate was once a place to celebrate, with hired help taken for granted.

But now, Frances Wray and her aging mother Emily are struggling, and despite the embarrassment, they decide to take in boarders.

I could feel the squeamishness of Frances as she and her mother greet Len and Lilian Barber, from the “clerk” class, and in the subsequent days, I could relate to her irritation with their behaviors (Len is loud, with a tendency toward suggestive innuendo), and Lilian seems spoiled (taking long baths in the middle of the day).

Slowly The Paying Guests unfolds, and we gradually come to see a slight shift. When did it happen? When was Frances first drawn to Lilian? And how did she succumb to long-forgotten passions?

Secrets, lies, and horrifying danger cloud the pages and reveal much. Everything speeds up quickly after something terrible happens, and we are left wondering if the dangerous secrets that Frances and Lilian share will cause their lives to unravel. Did Lilian have a hidden motive all along? Was Frances her prey? Or is there more to the story?

The ending brought about few surprises, and left things up in the air for some of the characters. I loved how the writer captured my interest and kept me turning those pages. Recommended for all who enjoy stories about secrets, lies, and betrayal. 5.0 stars.


    • I really couldn’t put it down, Kimba, although I also read another, shorter book at the same time (Monday, Monday). But then, toward the end, I had to focus solely on this one. Thanks for stopping by, Kimba.


  1. Ah, thanks for the tip about the slow start. Sometimes I get impatient when I start a book and if I know that the author is just building the characters and the setting and the suspense, well, it’s worth waiting for. Sounds like a really good read!


  2. I adored this book, in fact I’m still mourning the fact that it has finished so I totally endorse your five star rating (and your accompanying comments) That ending was a surprise and although in many books I’d find it annoying, in this one it seemed entirely fitting.


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