Fiona McFarlan’s debut novel “ The night guest” starts with our main character Ruth who lives in a remote seaside house with her cats, she is a recent Widow, her sons live far away. One night Ruth wakes up and is convinced of hearing a Tiger in her living room. She immediatley calls her son Jeffrey who assures her there is no tiger.
The next day Frida Young seems to simply show up on Ruth’s doorstep claiming she has been send as a part of an Australian governement program that provides elderly adults with limited assistance with daily living chores.
Ruth is initially not sure if she wants Frida’s help little, but little by little she let’s Frida take over. One day Ruth decides she wants to write a letter to a man named Richard who she knew from her youth in Fidji where she grew up (because her parents where missionaries).
This is the point in the novel where the line between “Is Ruth loosing her mind?” and “is Frida Young there to help or harm Ruth” starts blurring. Richard visits Ruth for a weekend and comments on how helpful Frida is and follows it up with how comfortable Ruth is with Frida living in her house. Ruth seems confused about this. She storms into one of her sons rooms and furiosly starts telling Frida to leave. Frida almost without flinching let’s Ruth know that they did agree on this and that Ruth just doesn’t rememeber. They fight. Frida threatens Ruth that if she where to leave now she is not to come back and what will poor helpless Ruth do withouther.
Ruth and Richard enjoy the days they have together and make love before Richard leaves. Richard asks Ruth to come live with him Thsi excites and frighten her at the same time . She is torn.
Ruth adapts to Frieda's moods, which change as rapidly as her hair color. Dropped off each morning by her brother, George, in his taxi, Frieda's hours expand to three, as she takes over Ruth's shopping, cleaning, preparing meals. Soon Ruth cannot imagine her home without Frieda in it. After this it is a slow downward spiral in which Ruth losses her independence bit by bit to Frida. Starting with selling Harry’s car which Frida claims George (her brother) will take care of and Frida taking over all of Rurh banking. Ruth get’s sick and looses track of time as do we as the reader. Ruth keeps on going back and forth on wether she should move in with Richard.
Frida at this point seems to have taken complete control over Ruths house. One day Ruth tell Frida about the Tiger she sometimes wakes up to and Frida borderline believes/ ridicules her, by creating tiger traps around the house after this Frida leaves and Ruth locked in over night. In a rush of anger Ruth starts breaking...