Thursday, August 29, 2013


Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (2002)

In a very Dickensian London, Susan Trinder has grown up among thieves. Her mother was hanged for a murderess and is raised by the kind Mrs. Sucksby who owns a baby farm. But Mrs. Sucksby and a man they call only Gentleman has cooked up a plot that will make them all rich. All Susan needs to do is pretend a ladies' maid to a girl called Maud Lilly and convince her to marry Gentleman so that he can then throw his wife into a madhouse and take her fortune. When Susan arrives and begins to feel affection for Maud she must remember her purpose and continue to play the role for which has been hired.

This is just the very beginning of the plot, but it's filled with various twists and turns and secrets. I was deliciously shocked a few different times along the way. I hear that this novel is an homage to Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White, which I still haven't gotten to but am sure I will like. For me, it was more like Oliver Twist, with the orphans and poverty and Fagin-like benefactors with illegal businesses. Nobody can be trusted, that's for sure.

As usual, Waters brought the setting alive with her rich detail and beautiful prose. Reading one of her books is to immerse yourself into another time and place, to really slip into another person's shoes and experience their life. I can't say that I especially liked any of the characters, but a few I could sympathize with. They were all victims of their upbringing or circumstances. All were intriguing though, and there were a few I wish I knew more about.

When it comes to Sarah Waters, I think I still liked Tipping the Velvet best so far, but Fingersmith was an excellent and well-told story which I enjoyed right up to its satisfying end.


Kylie said...

I love Sarah Waters! Her books are so Dickensian. And it is such a rare contemporary author that can be compared to Dickens. I was so excited when I first read her books: not only is she putting the lesbians back in history (where we always have been, but hidden) her writing is of a quality not seen since the 19th century.

The BBC production of this is awesome too. Have you read Affinity yet? I love that one as well.

3goodrats said...

Interesting - I haven't read Affinity yet but one of my coworkers says it's the book of hers they like the least. I'll definitely try it at some point. Sarah Waters is just brilliant!