Sunday, 18 November 2018

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters


Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Published in the UK by Virago in February 2002.

One of my WorldReads From Wales

How I got this book:
Borrowed from my partner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a "baby farmer," who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby’s household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, also hosts a transient family of petty thieves—fingersmiths—for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home.

One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives—Gentleman, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a naïve gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, then they will all share in Maud’s vast inheritance. Once the inheritance is secured, Maud will be disposed of—passed off as mad, and made to live out the rest of her days in a lunatic asylum.

With dreams of paying back the kindness of her adopted family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, Sue begins to pity her helpless mark and care for Maud Lilly in unexpected ways...But no one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and reversals.

I got into a conversation about Welsh authors with blogger Cee Arr on my recent Niedermayer And Hart book review post because I need a couple more for a Welsh WorldReads post. Cee Arr reminded me that Sarah Waters is Welsh and this review of Fingersmith is one I hadn't yet transferred over from my Stephanie Jane blog. I think we've got The Paying Guests awaiting reading too, but my first Sarah Waters book, recommended by Dave's daughter Carrie, was Fingersmith.

Set in Victorian era London the novel is a wickedly fabulous pastiche of the overly melodramatic literary style of the period and includes one of the best plot twists I have read in ages. Waters has created a varied cast of Dickensian characters, none of whom I would trust as far as I could throw them, and I also loved her scene-setting. The faded glamour of Briar House, the dingy terrace of Lant Street, and the terrors of the asylum all became very real as I kept reading. My favourite part of Fingersmith was the dual viewpoint. Seeing scenes that we thought we already knew, but now through a completely different lens provided great tension and I appreciated how each character had a distinctive voice so it was easy to follow their take on the story. Occasionally Fingersmith did feel a tad overlong, but generally the writing kept to a good pace and I was always keen to find out what would next befall our heroines.


Etsy Find!
by Good WASTE of Time in
Berlin, Germany

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Books by Sarah Waters / Historical fiction / Books from Wales

9 comments:

  1. I read a couple of her books way back and though they aren't my usual thing, at the time I thought they were decent reads.

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    1. I loved this one a couple of years ago now, but still haven't gotten around to any of her others.

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  2. Great review! My friend gave me a copy of this one, I need to read it soon! :)

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    1. Yes, you do!! I hope you love the story too :-)

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  3. I'm not sure how I would do with overly melodramatic literary style but I love characters you cannot trust and anything with "terrors of the asylum" sounds hard to resist :)

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    1. I think you'd enjoy this one. It kinda feels like a tongue-in-cheek Dickens, but rattles along at a much faster pace!

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  4. Thanks for the shout-out!!!!!!!!!!! XD <3

    Fingersmith is one I haven't read, but I'm def. on the lookout for it! My favourite Sarah Waters book to date is Affinity on account of the gothic-y-ness ;) I found it really vivid as well. :)

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    1. I've not yet read Affinity but you've grabbed my attention with gothic :-)

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