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The Paying Guest

George Gissing

Book Overview: 

George Gissing was one of the most accomplished writers of realism in the Victorian Era. Also The Paying Guest is a great example of realism, which closely pictures the class struggles of the time. The Novel opens at the breakfast table of the Mumfords, when Mr. Mumford draws the attention of his wife to an advertisement in the newspaper of a young lady searching a home with a respectable, well-connected family in London. After some consideration, the Mumfords decide to answer to the advertisement, and a few weeks later, Miss Derrick moves in with them. Tensions are inevitable.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .d she would remain with them for a year or two at least. But already Louise had dropped hints such as Emmeline could not fail to understand, and her avowal of serious interest in a lover came rather as an annoyance than a surprise to Mrs. Mumford.

It was a hot afternoon, and they had tea brought out into the garden, under the rustling leaves of the chestnut.

'You don't know anyone else at Sutton except Mrs. Fentiman?' said Louise, as she leaned back in the wicker chair.

'Not intimately. But some of our friends from London will be coming on Sunday. I've asked four people to lunch.'

'How jolly! Of course you'll tell me all about them before then. But I want to talk about Mr. Cobb. Please, two lumps of sugar. I've known him for about a year and a half. We seem quite old friends, and he writes to me; I don't answer the letters, unless there's something to say. To tell the truth, I don't like him.'

'How can that. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Not entirely bad writing, just really annoying characters. Glad this read is over

The still underappreciated novelist George Gissing (1857 - 1903) is best known for his books cast in the three-volume Victorian mold, such as "New Grub Street". Gissing's books explore themes of class structure, commercialism, love, and failure. In 1895, Gissing temporarily abandoned the three-vo...more

Strange to notice that Gissing seems still read and appreciated in English-speaking countries (10 reviews as I write this one, good ratings), while he is largely unknown in France, although he lived and finally died in France, the country I live in.
"The Paying Guest" is Victorian at heart, but ra...more

Manipulation and Class snobbery nicely demonstrated. Good entertainment. Quick read.

George Gissing is one of my all time favorite authors. I think it's unfortunate that he's relatively obscure today.

I got this novella when I read that it was a more comedic work of Gissing. It details a series of mishaps when an upper middle class couple take a lower class girl into their home a...more

A short and entertaining story about the toxic effect that one manipulative person can have in a happy household. No surprises, but a good tale.

A short novella which deals with class distinction.
The paying guest is not quite what was expected but once there difficult to get rid off.
Clarence and Emmeline Mumford live in Sutton.
Coming on hard times they take in Louise Derrick to help with the finances.
From a lower class so all is not well...more

A rising middle class suburban British family takes in a young woman of a distinctly different background in order to secure a supplemental income.
The effects of class and money on human relations brings chaos to the household. The humor of the book results from the awkwardness of snobbery and a...more

This is one of Gissing's shorter books. Not quite a short story and not quite a novelette. It's interesting and I became involved with the characters and the story but it is not one of his best. I like his longer novels such as Demos and New Grub Street and, definitely, Thyrza.
In this one Clare...more

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