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149 of 154 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pickpocketing the Pages of History
Sarah Waters' third novel begins simply enough. Sue Trinder is a teenage orphan who lives amongst a group of confidence men, thieves, baby farmers and fingersmiths (a 19th-century term for a pickpockets). An unscrupulous man commonly and ironically known as Gentleman compels Sue to join in his plot to win the heart of an elderly bookish man's niece named Maud. Maud is...
Published on October 18, 2002 by Eric Anderson

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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overrated but entertaining melodrama
I read Fingersmith because it was included on a list of 1001 books to read before you die. While I enjoyed the tale, I found it to be light entertainment rather than a substantial, totally satisfying reading experience. Fingersmith is the story of a London lass brought up in a den of thieves who becomes involved in a plot to dupe an heiress out of her fortune. On the...
Published on June 1, 2008 by J. Badger


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A VICTORIAN PAGE TURNER, January 30, 2003
By 
This review is from: Fingersmith (Paperback)
Set in Victorian England, FINGERSMITH tells the tale of the intertwined lives of Sue and Maud and their involvement in a scheme to get their hands on a large inheritance. To tell any more of the plot would possibly risk giving away some delicious tidbit. The reader should begin FINGERSMITH knowing as little as possible to enable them to fully appreciate all the twists and turns that are involved. Once one thinks they've figured it out they are once again left in the dark. Not until the last paragraph does one come upon the ending.
There is so much enjoyment to be found in FINGERSMITH. The writing is beautiful and enchanting. There were so many scenes where I could really 'feel' what it would be like to live during this time period. I most appreciated Waters' portrayal of the mad house before the advent of modern psychiatric knowledge and care. What a grim and desolate place to find yourself in. I have not enjoyed a work of historical fiction as much as FINGERSMITH since I read Margaret Atwood's ALIAS GRACE, which is equally impressive. FINGERSMITH is well worth reserving time during the day to indulge yourself.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes me want to read more Sarah Waters, December 4, 2002
By 
F. Mercer "bibliophile" (Saratoga Spings, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Fingersmith (Hardcover)
This book was quite good and makes me eager to read her other novels. Waters accurately captures the seedier side of Victorian England--the pickpockets and fences, erotic book dealers and collectors, madhouses and inmates--in a richly complex novel that starts out slow but becomes un-put-downable at the end of Part 1. The characters are well-written; the dialogue seems real; the intrigue is engrossing. Unlike much of the trite, stereotypical works that pass for "good" lesbian fiction, Waters manages to write three dimensional lovers facing realistic obstacles to be together. Waters even manages to pay a certain amount of homage to Victorian erotica--where the lesbian novel got its start by tittilating repressed men--by taking the themes that one comes across in such novels (bad girls vs. good girls who always seem to come under the power of very bad men, etc.) and turning them into something realistic. This is a gritty novel that evokes the underside of the Victorian era in all its sensual reality.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing, March 23, 2003
This review is from: Fingersmith (Hardcover)
I picked this book up on a whim, never having heard of the author before. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down! I stayed up for three nights straight and gulped it down- the characters are solid and real, the plot surpasses the promise of good twists, the love story is affecting and gorgeously portrayed, the villain is slick, twisted and infuriating... I immediately went and got her other two books and am in the middle of Affinity. Sarah Waters is the kind of writer I have not experienced in years- her words transport you to another place and time and truly you don't want to come back to your world when you are done with her novels. I can't wait for her future novels.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trust No One, July 31, 2003
This review is from: Fingersmith (Paperback)
As in Sarah Waters first two novels, "Fingersmith" once again gives us a close view of the seamier side of life in London during Victorian times ? this time we make the acquaintance of a den of thieves & pickpockets among the dregs of society and get a glimpse of the world of pornography & kinky inclinations for gentlemen. This author is an expert at plot twists and surprises which really shock the reader, allow yourself uninterrupted time for this book, it is a real page turner, melodramatic, a love story, a murder/crime thriller and great historical fiction.
There are so many twist and turns to this story that I find it hard to say much about it without revealing crucial parts of the plot. The main characters are 2 orphans, Maud and Sue, that have grown up leading vastly different lives and are brought together in their late teens. At the beginning we are introduced to Sue and the family of thieves she lives among at the house of Mrs. Sucksby. Sue is presented with a mission by Mrs. Sucksby?s friend whom she calls ?Gentleman? ? The plan, in brief, is that Gentleman will marry an orphaned, isolated heiress then have her locked up in an asylum, stealing her money, Sue will pose as the lady?s maid and assist Gentleman in making his wife appear insane. And that is all I will say.
I look forward to rereading this one day to look out for all the little clues I missed the first time.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark and engrossing - Will you read continuously until finished? Or slam it shut and hide from the tale on its pages?, July 2, 2006
This review is from: Fingersmith (Paperback)
Sarah Waters' Fingersmith is not for those faint of heart. When you begin her amazing book you may recognize her graphic descriptions of the sad and deplorable conditions of the lives of the "working-poor" in Victorian London thanks to similar characterizations provided by authors such as Dickens, Emma Donoghue and Sheri Holman.

Well sit down. That's just the warm up. Get a fresh drink ready to help you wash away the disgusting taste that will be soon left in your mouth. Get your teddy bear. Ms. Waters is about to introduce you to some things you haven't before considered.

Be ready for duplicity, manipulation, heartbreak and suspense on par with few other historical fiction novels. Prepare for yourself to confront abandon, hopelessness and confinement. Prepare for heartbreak. Prepare for love.

Can one prepare for such conflicting situations and feelings? Of course not. That's the joy of this wonderful story. Waters will surprise you and horrify you time and time again. I wanted to put the book down and hide; I wanted to quit reading and yet was compelled to continue. Thank God I did. This is one of those books that will burn its story into your mind.

I also recommend the wonderful "Crimson Petal and the White" by Michael Faber for another enthralling and dark story of Victorian England's seedier side.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Among Friends and Thieves, March 9, 2003
By 
Melanie (Lafayette, LA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fingersmith (Paperback)
Fingersmith is a good book filled with twists and surprises that keep the reader interested. Set in Victorian England, the story is about a family-like group of thieves, fingersmiths, that deal in everything from stolen goods to babies and a household involved in shady activities. In particular, the story is about how the lives of two innocent young women are affected by the greed and deception of those they depend on.
Susan is my favorite character. I feel sympathetic towards her and I like the way her character grows. Although reared by and among thieves, Susan maintains her trustworthy innocence until a very dirty trick is played on her and she becomes tough and determined.
Just as the plot becomes dull and predictable, Sarah Waters injects a twist or surprise that catches the reader off guard. One good lesson to be learned from this book is that a thief will lie and steal from anyone: family, friends, business associates, confidantes and enemies. We can learn from this because sometimes we think that a person we meet will never do us wrong and we think highly of him. By reading this book, we see that some people will step on and use anyone.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally Hooked!, May 23, 2002
By 
This review is from: Fingersmith (Hardcover)
I have become a great fan of Ms. Water's work. _Tipping the Velvet_ remains my all-time favorite, but this almost tops it -- Great fiction, no matter what your lifestyle. A richly detailed story of love and betrayal set in 1860's England.
The two heroines, Sue and Maud, live nearly parallel lives except for their social class. Sue grows up on the mean streets of London slums, Maud in the gilded cage of the English countryside. Both are confined by their circumstances, both seek a way out. When the opportunity presents itself in the form of a con man named Gentleman, they leap at the chance. Little do they now what his plan has in store for them.
Fingersmith is full of twists, each more surprising than the other. I got this on Mother's Day and finished it the following Thursday. I couldn't get enough!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, June 2, 2010
This review is from: Fingersmith (Paperback)
Let me begin by saying that Fingersmith is the first novel in recent memory to incorporate a plot twist so unexpected and surprising that I actually exclaimed out loud ("I think I said "Holy Crap!" or something equally insightful. Don't judge me... it was a shocking twist.) I love that. For better or worse, I am a very difficult reader to surprise. Fingersmith actually surprised me twice. Set in my very favorite literary time and place, Victorian England, Fingersmith is a tale of intrigue full of memorable characters, an intricate and surprising plot and vivid period detail. It is truly a remarkable book. The novel is divided into three parts: the first tells the story from Sue Trinder's perspective, the second tells the story from Maud Lilly''s perspective and the third finishes out the tale, moving forward from where their stories merge... or diverge, as the case may be.

Part One is arguably the best storytelling work I've read in recent memory. It is spell-binding and I couldn't put the book down. Part Two is interesting because it is essentially a retelling of Part One from a completely different perspective with the addition of lots of great (and also unexpected) background information on Maud Lilly. Part Three brings the story to fruition... but Part Three is also the reason I dropped the plot rating from 5 to 4.5... once the stories rejoin and the plot moves forward to its conclusion, the novel loses a lot of momentum. Fingersmith is like a thoroughbred... really fast and vastly superior for short distances, but lacking a bit in endurance. Part Three contained a twist or two of its own, but was essentially a waiting game with little by way of new action or intrigue. Or maybe I'm just holding it to the impossibly high standard set forth in Part One.

Waters does a brilliant job of portraying life in Victorian England - both rural and city life. I'm a bit of a snob about this period... it has to be perfect. And Fingersmith's setting really was perfect. The characters are equally well-developed with a wide variety of personas, all in keeping with Victorian standards and yet each with their own idiosyncrasies and often startling secrets. The premise of the novel is absolutely fresh and thoroughly unique. I can certainly see why Fingersmith put Sarah Waters on the map, so to speak. There is no arguing the talent of an author who writes a book like Fingersmith.

The Bottom Line: An engrossing and intricately detailed historical novel full of intrigue and unexpected plot twists. A must-read for fans of the genre.

This review originally appeared on my blog. See profile for details.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, March 20, 2007
By 
This review is from: Fingersmith (Paperback)
This book totally transported me to 19th century England. It was well written and quite engrossing. The plot kept me reading, and I finished this book in an uncharacteristically short time (I usually take weeks to finish a book - this one took me under a week). It shows the dark & unusual sides of that time period.

If you are into "period" literature but hate the boring ho-hum stuff and instead want to explore thieves' dens, dark mansions, hints of deviant sexuality, etc., then this book is for you! I can't wait to read it again.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book held me hostage., February 10, 2007
By 
hac500 (North Hollywood, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fingersmith (Paperback)
I could not put this book down. And aside from the last Harry Potter book (book #6) this is one of the few books I've read so exhaustively fast that friends and family were a little peeved at my putting them off until I finished.

Needless to say--the page-turning talents of Ms Waters are tremendous.

She wraps you into Victorian England in a way that is part of the story and of our protagonists lives rather than being overly descriptive to show off historical research for it's own sake. Just the same, if you're a fan of Victorian anything (esp. hypocrisy), you'll love the way she immerses you in it.

The story of our two main protagonists, who's fates seem almost completely controlled by others (except of course, for their love of each other) is set among a thick plot of thievery, debauchery, gentlemen society, London squalor and a lunatic asylum (all key victorian themes). The pace is quite fast through all three parts of the book, though I did think it got a little tired in the asylum chapters. however the book regrouped & I loved how it finished.

I've just found that a BBC series was adapted from the book and can't wait to see it on DVD.

I highly recommend this book.
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Fingersmith
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (Paperback - October 1, 2002)
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