Ansley’s Favorite Book of 2014: THE PAYING GUESTS

Every year, our marketing department works with our booksellers and book buyers to put together our Winter Catalog, a collection of our favorite books of 2014 along with recommendations for holiday gifts. Booksellers submit competing essays about their favorite books and the winners are featured in the full-color, glossy pages of the catalog. Tons of brainstorming goes into determining the catalog’s theme and setting up the big photo shoot. 

This year’s theme is DIY, inspired by Amy Sedaris’ book, Simple Times. Throughout December, we’re highlighting the catalog’s featured booksellers here on the blog, as well as providing a bit of behind-the-scenes info on its creation.

Ansley’s favorite book of 2014: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

“Post-World War I England is a damaged and dreary place. The Wray women have been left with no choice but to take in boarders. Lilian and Leonard Barber move in not only their furniture, but their problems, their love, and their lies. Waters uses the backdrop of the Great War to highlight the grief and hopelessness of the time; how the war changed interpersonal relationships, the ways in which an upper class mother and daughter relate to a working class couple, and the tensions that occur when one man lives with three women. In this delightfully unsettling and engrossing book, Waters also explores what happens when two women become closer than friends, harboring potentially dangerous secrets. Waters knows how to write an engaging story and you’ll find the pages flying by.”

How we shot it: 

Boy howdy did we wind up with some weird outtakes on this one. Our initial approach was to create a Big Ben costume out of cardboard and put it on Ben, because obviously. But that didn’t turn out so well.


It just looked weird. So we got Big Ben out of there, put the standing ashtray Mandy dug out of her parents’ closet in Ansley’s hand like a weapon, posed her in front of World War I history and took about a hundred pictures in which Ansley looked as fierce and British as possible.

About Ansley:

foxfireFans of My Book Would Also Enjoy:
Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang by Joyce Carol Oates

6 Word Bio:
I’d rather be at the beach.

Favorite Literary Hero:
Katniss Everdeen

Favorite Literary Villain:
Patrick Bateman

My Idea of a Happy Ending:
Anything that is original, witty, smart, or surprising, and doesn’t pander to the lowest common denominator.

Dream Dinner Party Guest List:
Marie Antoinette
Vivienne Westwood
Connie Britton
Kathleen Hanna
Gilda Radner

More Books for the Fiction Lover


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