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Fingersmith Paperback – October 1, 2002
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Fingersmith is the third slice of engrossing lesbian Victoriana from Sarah Waters. Although lighter and more melodramatic in tone than its predecessor, Affinity, this hypnotic suspense novel is awash with all manner of gloomy Dickensian leitmotifs: pickpockets, orphans, grim prisons, lunatic asylums, "laughing villains," and, of course, "stolen fortunes and girls made out to be mad." Divided into three parts, the tale is narrated by two orphaned girls whose lives are inextricably linked. Waters's penchant for byzantine plotting can get a bit exhausting, but even at its densest moments--and remember, this is smoggy London circa 1862--it remains mesmerizing. A damning critique of Victorian moral and sexual hypocrisy, a gripping melodrama, and a love story to boot, this book ingeniously reworks some truly classic themes. --Travis Elborough, Amazon.co.uk
From Library Journal
In Victorian London, the orphaned Sue Trinder is raised by Mrs. Sucksby, den mother to a family of thieves, or "fingersmiths." To repay Mrs. Sucksby's kindness, Sue gets involved in a scam but soon regrets it. From the award-winning author of Tipping the Velvet.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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That is actually one of many plot twists. This story is told in three parts. The first narrated by Sue, the second by Maud, and then the third by Sue again.
I love Sarah Waters' writing and her fantastic setting of Victorian London with characters from a Dickens' novel. Evil uncles, madhouses, prisons, pickpockets,orphans, deception, betrayal: it is all in there and Waters writes about it with perfect prose.
However, I think there was one plot twist too many that made me not enjoy this as much as I enjoyed Affinity. I'm still a bit confused as it were. Also, when we get to Maud's point of view, the story back tracks and tells the first part over but through her eyes. This was a little much though necessary. But I hate re-telling of stories. It just didn't have the smooth flow of Affinity. But it was still a worthwhile read, just not a five star read.
my rating 4/5
Fingersmith is the story of two young women who have nothing in common except the acquaintance of a man who goes by the name Gentleman. He's a crook who means to ruin an heiress in order to make his fortune. As part of Gentleman's plan to get rich quick, Susan leaves Mrs. Sucksby, the woman who raises her, and London, the only home she's ever known. When she travels to Briar to pose as Maud's maid, she soon discovers a connection that goes beyond the treacherous scheme that brings her and Maud together. Despite deceit, their kinship is cemented during all the time they spend in each other's company. Their heartstrings are pulled tight with thoughts of what is to happen next. They share a love believed to be so hideous as to be shunned by society and yet through it all, the hope of good coming out of evil is the hope that has readers turning the pages.
Gentleman, a despicable yet thoroughly charming con man, evokes little or no sympathy but he's entertaining in his cunning sort of way. Then there's Mrs. Sucksby, a petty thief, who raises Susan as a means to an end. When Mrs. Sucksby sells the other orphaned infants but keeps Sue as her own, Waters compels us to discover the motive behind baby farmer's actions. Mr. Lilly, Maud's uncle, is a depraved man who enslaves a girl for his gain. It makes us wonder how some people have few scruples to inflict cruelty upon others.
Waters captivates her audiences through vivid imagery as each scene builds the suspenseful plot only to pull a fast one at every turn. Anyone who longs for a Victorian novel told expertly in the Dickens style, who loves surprises, who enjoys characters to sink your teeth into, and who wants to come away uplifted, would do well not to hesitate another moment. Head over to your bookshop or on-line seller and pick up a copy today. Susan and Maud will forever be in your heart. You won't be able to put it down. If you crave authentic historical fiction, clever plot twists, and a fine romance, I highly recommend you don't miss this gem.