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The Night Guest: A Novel
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Published:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2013
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Description


A mesmerizing first novel about trust, dependence, and fear, from a major new writer

Ruth is widowed, her sons are grown, and she lives in an isolated beach house outside of town. Her routines are few and small. One day a stranger arrives at her door, looking as if she has been blown in from the sea. This woman—Frida—claims to be a care worker sent by the government. Ruth lets her in. Now that Frida is in her house, is Ruth right to fear the tiger she hears on the prowl at night, far from its jungle habitat? Why do memories of childhood in Fiji press upon her with increasing urgency? How far can she trust this mysterious woman, Frida, who seems to carry with her own troubled past? And how far can Ruth trust herself? The Night Guest, Fiona McFarlane's hypnotic first novel, is no simple tale of a crime committed and a mystery solved. This is a tale that soars above its own suspense to tell us, with exceptional grace and beauty, about ageing, love, trust, dependence, and fear; about processes of colonization; and about things (and people) in places they shouldn't be. Here is a new writer who comes to us fully formed, working wonders with language, renewing our faith in the power of fiction to describe the mysterious workings of our minds.

A Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Book of 2013

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
10/01/2013
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780374710644
ASIN:
B00C74VCQ8
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Fiona McFarlane. (2013). The Night Guest: A Novel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Fiona McFarlane. 2013. The Night Guest: A Novel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Fiona McFarlane, The Night Guest: A Novel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Fiona McFarlane. The Night Guest: A Novel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Updated:
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      • bioText: Fiona McFarlane was born in 1978 in Sydney, Australia, and holds a PhD from Cambridge University and an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a Michener Fellow. Her work has been published in Zoetrope: All-Story, The Missouri Review, and The 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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shortDescription

A mesmerizing first novel about trust, dependence, and fear, from a major new writer





Ruth is widowed, her sons are grown, and she lives in an isolated beach house outside of town. Her routines are few and small. One day a stranger arrives at her door, looking as if she has been blown in from the sea. This woman—Frida—claims to be a care worker sent by the government. Ruth lets her in.


Now that Frida is in her house, is Ruth right to fear the tiger she hears on the prowl at night, far from its jungle habitat? Why do memories of childhood in Fiji press upon her with increasing urgency? How far can she trust this mysterious woman, Frida, who seems to carry with her own troubled past? And how far can Ruth trust herself?


The Night Guest, Fiona McFarlane's hypnotic first novel, is no simple tale of a crime committed and a mystery solved. This is a tale that soars above its own suspense to tell...

isOwnedByCollections
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title
The Night Guest
fullDescription

A mesmerizing first novel about trust, dependence, and fear, from a major new writer


Ruth is widowed, her sons are grown, and she lives in an isolated beach house outside of town. Her routines are few and small. One day a stranger arrives at her door, looking as if she has been blown in from the sea. This woman—Frida—claims to be a care worker sent by the government. Ruth lets her in.
Now that Frida is in her house, is Ruth right to fear the tiger she hears on the prowl at night, far from its jungle habitat? Why do memories of childhood in Fiji press upon her with increasing urgency? How far can she trust this mysterious woman, Frida, who seems to carry with her own troubled past? And how far can Ruth trust herself?
The Night Guest, Fiona McFarlane's hypnotic first novel, is no simple tale of a crime committed and a mystery solved. This is a tale that soars above its own suspense to tell us, with exceptional grace and beauty, about ageing, love, trust, dependence, and fear; about processes of colonization; and about things (and people) in places they shouldn't be. Here is a new writer who comes to us fully formed, working wonders with language, renewing our faith in the power of fiction to describe the mysterious workings of our minds.

A Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Book of 2013

sortTitle
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reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from July 8, 2013
        A widow contends with loneliness and the subtle indignities of old age in McFarlane’s rich and suspenseful debut. At 75, Ruth Field lives alone in the Australian seaside home she once shared with her husband, Harry. Hers is a structured and solitary existence, punctuated by obligatory calls from her adult sons and the occasional sounds of an imagined jungle tiger strolling through her parlor at night. One morning, the commanding Frida Young arrives, claiming to have been sent by the government as a personal aide. Ruth must adjust her once orderly routine to “Valkyric” Frida, who can “fix everything” and yet is “always wanting... without ever quite admitting it.” Together the women explore the vulnerabilities of loneliness and aging, even as clues mount that Frida is not who she claims to be. In Ruth’s small and tightly inhabited world, McFarlane gives a flourish to even the smallest observations: Frida exhales through her nose “with an equine vigor”; Ruth’s furniture appears “almost anxious for her approval, as if... waiting for her forgiveness, dressed in its very best clothes.” This book is at once a beautifully imagined portrait of isolation and an unsettling psychological thriller. Agent: Stephanie Cabot, the Gernert Company.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from June 1, 2013
        An enrapturing debut novel that toys with magical realism while delivering a fresh fable. One night, Ruth hears a tiger in her home. This reminds her of her childhood in Fiji, where her parents were missionaries, though there were no tigers in Fiji. Nor are there tigers where Ruth abides, alone in a seaside home on the southern coast of Australia, her children grown and living in other countries. The morning after Ruth hears the tiger, Frida appears as if from the sea. She explains that she is a government "carer." A spot opened up, she says, and Ruth was on their waiting list. Ruth is not sure she needs a carer--she's only 75--but Frida looks like she's from Fiji, and a few hours a day couldn't hurt. Initially, it seems that Frida is exactly what Ruth needs: a no-nonsense, larger-than-life presence who keeps Ruth company and her floors shining and sand-free. Ruth doesn't hear the tiger again for some time. But other strange things begin to happen, things that test Ruth's sense of reality with increasing frequency and, eventually, give rise to an unshakable foreboding. Ruth has reasons not to trust Frida. We have reasons not to trust her either, some that will be explained and some that will remain a mystery. 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. Frida, seen through Ruth's eyes, is as compelling as she is enigmatic. By the time Ruth hears the tiger again, she and Frida are allied in a spiral of love and dependency that will dictate both their futures. A pleasurable novel, with turns of plot and phrase both startling and elegant.

        COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        September 1, 2013
        An eerie aura of foreboding pervades McFarlane's debut novel about Ruth, a lonely widow living in an isolated beach house in Australia. Ruth's life is quiet and predictable, save for one conspicuous bit of strangeness: she is certain a tiger is prowling around her property at night. Ruth's world is turned upside down when a stranger named Frida appears at her doorstep, claiming to be a care worker sent by the government. Ruth is wary of Frida at first, but the two eventually form an uneasy alliance. As time goes by, however, Ruth begins to suspect that Frida is hiding something. She is very secretive, with a strange brother, George, who drives a local taxi. One night, Frida kills the tiger that has been tormenting Ruth. Not long after, she reveals some distressing news about her brother: he has taken all of her money and skipped town. McFarlane's crisp, clean, lean prose is a pleasure to read, though her novel's startling ending may leave some readers scratching their heads.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2013, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        September 15, 2013

        Australian Ruth Field did not anticipate living alone in her seaside retirement cottage. The sudden death of husband Harry has left the septuagenarian coping relatively well but feeling the effects of age creeping up on her like the tigers she dreams are prowling through the living room. Frida, a government home health aide, arrives and quickly insinuates herself into Ruth's life (and spare bedroom). Ruth initially welcomes the help, but is Frida really whom she claims to be? Flashbacks to Ruth's childhood as a missionary's daughter in Fiji and her rekindled romance with Richard, her first love, bring out themes of colonialism, isolation, and the effects of imposing one's will upon another--well intentioned or not. VERDICT Sydney native McFarlane debuts with a tense, psychological thriller that skillfully builds and weaves around the two women as Ruth confronts her growing dependence. Gothic in sensibility, with a touch of magic realism, this novel feels at once like a classic and a fresh, original tale of engrossing literary suspense. Fans of psychologically oriented Scandinavian fiction should feel a familiar draw to this first novel, which is already creating significant buzz around the globe. [See Prepub Alert, 4/29/13.]--Jennifer B. Stidham, Houston Community Coll. Northeast

        Copyright 2013 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        May 15, 2013

        Widowed Ruth lives a quiet life by the sea until a woman claiming to be a government caseworker enters her life. Suddenly, Ruth starts recalling her childhood in Fiji and seems to hear a tiger roaming. Creeping fear, the long road of aging, and the inviolable presence of the colonial past: this is the publisher's important fiction debut for the fall.

        Copyright 2013 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Starred review from September 15, 2013

        Australian Ruth Field did not anticipate living alone in her seaside retirement cottage. The sudden death of husband Harry has left the septuagenarian coping relatively well but feeling the effects of age creeping up on her like the tigers she dreams are prowling through the living room. Frida, a government home health aide, arrives and quickly insinuates herself into Ruth's life (and spare bedroom). Ruth initially welcomes the help, but is Frida really whom she claims to be? Flashbacks to Ruth's childhood as a missionary's daughter in Fiji and her rekindled romance with Richard, her first love, bring out themes of colonialism, isolation, and the effects of imposing one's will upon another--well intentioned or not. VERDICT Sydney native McFarlane debuts with a tense, psychological thriller that skillfully builds and weaves around the two women as Ruth confronts her growing dependence. Gothic in sensibility, with a touch of magic realism, this novel feels at once like a classic and a fresh, original tale of engrossing literary suspense. Fans of psychologically oriented Scandinavian fiction should feel a familiar draw to this first novel, which is already creating significant buzz around the globe. [See Prepub Alert, 4/29/13.]--Jennifer B. Stidham, Houston Community Coll. Northeast

        Copyright 2013 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

subtitle
A Novel
popularity
46
publisher
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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