Book Review: The Night Guest, by Fiona McFarlane

4.5 to 5 stars

I’ve yet to read a book by an Aussie that I didn’t like. The premise of The Night Guest is as follows: Lonely old woman lives on the beach and think she hears a tiger in her house. Her sons think she’s going nuts, but don’t bother to come check on her. Then a woman shows up claiming to be sent from the government to help her out. The old woman, Ruth, slowly becomes more and more attached to her government carer. But is the woman really who she says she is?

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Since this is a suspense novel, I’m not going to give away too much of the story. I’ll just give some short comments on the writing.

The writing in this novel is superb. The prose is poetic and it’s well-paced. I saw someone’s review compare the suspense to a frog boiling in water, and I think that’s an apt image of this story. Throughout, you’re wondering if she’s really succumbing to dementia, or if the government carer is drugging her in order to manipulate. I went back and forth on my opinion on the matter. The author did an excellent job of giving the reader insight into a confused mind. I was heartbroken for this old woman. The ending was beautiful, if a little frustrating. Not frustrating because of the writing, but frustrating because of the situation. I was angry at the end of this novel. Angry at society, angry at the characters, angry at the world. And then I called my parents, just to let them know that I care about their well-being.

This book made me sad, anxious, disturbed, scared, and pissed off. Anything that can make me care that much is well worth the read.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Night Guest, by Fiona McFarlane

  1. **POSSIBLE SPOILERS IN COMMENT**

    Okay, I totally think she was drugged the whole time. Especially after Ruth turns the carer’s room upside-down and her pills get scattered everywhere. The carer brought those pills with her. BUT then… what about the tiger? Half the time I thought it was fake, but what do you make of the scene where her carer goes out and fights it? I can’t decide. I think this would be a good book club book just so you could hash out those details with other people.

    my review: http://foldedpagesdistillery.blogspot.com/2014/06/the-night-guest-review.html

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    1. The tiger in the beginning was the only thing that confused me as well. I figured it was just a paranoid/lonely old woman who was imagining things at first, then her carer jumps on the opportunity and feeds into that imagination. The carer trying to ‘get rid’ of the tiger, in my opinion, was her actually trying to help the old woman because she felt bad for what she’d done to her. It was kind of touching…if you ignore the horrible thing she was doing, of course. I think this is definitely one of those books that would warrant discussion in a book club.

      Thanks for the comment 🙂

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