Publisher's Note:  

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.

The Night Guest: A Novel

by Fiona McFarlane

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Overall Review:  

The Night Guest is a beautiful book, inside and out. If a glance at the bright cover doesn't get you to read this book, the synopsis should. Everyone knows someone who is elderly and that older person may be in need of some assistance with things they used to be able to do on their own. Some may be in denial about this, or confused; this book expounds on that quite nicely, but there is a little twist that I didn't see coming. The main character in this book is elderly, and might be a little crazy. She is certain she has a dangerous visitor in the wee hours of the night--thus, the title. But when she bothers to phone her son, he ignores her fanciful stories. However, if given a closer look, she just might see that the danger she fears comes in another form entirely.


I enjoyed reading this book, and trying to decipher what was real, and what was all in the character's imaginations. I also appreciated how it highlighted the trust we may put into people we really don't know, and who may not deserve said trust. This story is a wonderful work of debut fiction.

Content Analysis:  

Language/Profanity:  4 religious exclamations; 7 mild obscenities; 3 F-word derivatives.


Violence/Gore:  Two descriptions of what one of the characters imagines to be a tiger attacking a human; an old woman describes a scratch on her arm; a description of a bathrobe with blood on it from an animal attack; the main character kills a wild animal and reports this to her friend.


Sex/Nudity:  Adults kiss multiple times; two old lovers reunite and there is one extended sex scene with nudity and innuendo; sex between adults is referred to 3 times.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Death of a loved one; deceit.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

An adult is mentioned to be giving up smoking.

Reviewed By Lydia
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