Author: Sarah Waters
A couple of weeks ago, I was clearing out some books from my room. As you can imagine, I have a LOT of books, and I’ve reached the point that I needed to free up some space. I came across this gem, which I purchased last year on the recommendation of my lecturer to help me write my dissertation (about anorexia in Victorian fictional heroines). I didn’t get around to finishing it in time, and it was lost in my bookcase. I was about the throw it away when I thought, ‘Hang on, this look like the perfect novel for me!’ And here we are!
‘Fingersmith’ is a tale set in 1860’s London. We find Sue Trinder, a petty thief and orphan, being drawn into a scam to get a cut of money, but an old hand, Gentleman. The scam seems simple enough; play maid to a wealthy young Lady, Maud Lilly, and persuade her to marry Gentleman. Once this is done, they will put her into a madhouse, and share her fortune between themselves. Of course, we know it will be anything but simple, but I really didn’t expect the fantastic twist, and the outcome of this brilliant novel.
“Her fortune is certain, the uncle can’t touch it; but it comes with a queer condition attached. She won’t see a penny till the day she marries.”
I have come across Sarah Waters’ work before, and was required to read ‘Tipping the Velvet’ for my university course. But I didn’t get far into before giving in and thinking it was not the kind of book for me. However, I am now itching to get my hands on all her previous books!
‘Fingersmith’ is ultimately a love-story, with a bit of everything else thrown in. There are plenty of twists that you won’t expect, and moment when you wish you could reach into the pages and talk to Sue or Maud, and tell them what’s going to happen!
The other characters are also well fleshed-out. For example, Gentleman’s smoking habit and the way he is able to manipulate Sue and Maud is very well written, and the emotions the two women feel are easy to relate to. Water’s has a great way of writing that makes you become involved with the storyline. You are with the characters as they live through the evens, and you therefore live it with them.
A lot of excellent research has gone into the time period, which I love to learn about. From the fashion the characters wear, to the language each uses, Water’s can really set the scene and write an addictive story at the same time.
For the first time in a very long while, I am genuinely sad to have finished the book. I couldn’t stop reading, but I didn’t want it to end! Luckily, there is a TV adaptation of the book to keep me going until I find my next Sarah Water’s best-seller.
I’d love to hear if you’ve read this, and what you thought! 🙂