The Night Guest

On a remote beach near a quiet town in a secluded corner of the Australian coast, Ruth Field lives out retirement in splendid, sandy solitude--except for the tiger that's begun prowling around her house at night. She won't tell her new government-issued caregiver, the stoic and forceful Frida, about the situation--at least not until she's sure the woman is reliable. But with her husband dead, one son in New Zealand and the other in Hong Kong, Ruth soon relies on Frida more than anyone.

With Jamesian deftness, Fiona McFarlane's The Night Guest leads readers into a domicile where one can't quite remember whether she can trust her own memories. How did Frida come to be Ruth's caregiver? Were there ever tigers in Fiji when Ruth lived there so very long ago? Did Richard, a man she'd known as a young woman in Fiji, ever really love her?

McFarlane's grand debut examines the mystifying creep of age into one widow's life, thrilling readers with the kind of magical wonder the world offers when everything appears fresh, revivified and unexpected. Each turn of phrase is splendid, and McFarlane's sense of tension and pacing lures the reader deeper into a dubious game of trickery, where one's own mind might be the one doing the fooling. The Night Guest is as gripping as it is gorgeous. --Dave Wheeler, bookseller, The Elliott Bay Book Co., Seattle

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