Synopses & Reviews
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 aging, 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
“Enthralling....This stellar debut will haunt you — and remind you to call your mother.” Entertainment Weekly
“A novel of uncanny emotional penetration; it had me flipping to the back cover more than once to scrutinize the author photo. How could anyone so young portray so persuasively what it feels like to look back on a lot more life than you can see in front of you?...A low thrum of terror builds ever so gradually as The Night Guest proceeds, and its source is the slippery connection between the mind and the world....What makes The Night Guest especially unnerving is the way it immerses the reader in a mind that is slowly slipping its moorings. As McFarlane depicts it, in clean, sinuous prose, you begin to lose your self by burrowing deeper inside it....You're in [Ruth's] head, and that head gets less and less sound as the novel progresses, but its a strangely delightful place to be, for all the darkness surrounding it.” Salon
“[A] striking debut.” Vogue.com
“An enrapturing debut novel....Startling and elegant.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Gothic in sensibility, with a touch of magic realism, this novel feels at once like a classic and a fresh, original tale....Fans of psychologically oriented Scandinavian fiction should feel a familiar draw to this first novel, which is already creating significant buzz around the globe.” Library Journal (starred review)
“McFarlane's crisp, clean prose is a pleasure to read.” Booklist (starred review)
About the Author
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.