57 pages 1 hour read

Sarah Waters


Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2002

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Part 2, Chapters 7-10Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 2, Chapter 7 Summary

The narration shifts: Now, it is Maud Lilly’s turn to tell her story. Her earliest memory—surely fabricated—is of her mother covered in blood, dying in childbirth. The nurses rear Maud in the psychiatric hospital where her mother was kept: “Thus I learn the rudiments of discipline and order; and incidentally apprehend the attitudes of insanity. This will all prove useful, later” (166). She is given a portrait of her mother, who she has decided to despise, which she looks upon every day to tell her how much she hates her. At around the age of nine, her uncle comes to retrieve her. She is to be his secretary.

At first, she is willful, disobedient, and wild. Her uncle, and his dour housekeeper, Mrs. Stiles, will soon remedy that with their physical and psychological torture. Mr. Lilly insists that Maud be kept in gloves at all times so that her hands will not grow rough and harm the precious books she is to help him catalog. Mr. Lilly keeps one of the most “uncommon” libraries in all of England (173), and Maud is to assist him in indexing his volumes, occasionally reading aloud from the texts to amuse him and his guests.