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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
I think Waters really sets up an engaging plot in Part 1. We get to learn about Sue and some of the minor characters, and there is a nicely placed twist here and there. The atmosphere and attention to details really is spot on, really projecting sort of a Gothic vibe. You feel the gloom and the mysteriousness of places and surroundings. In this way, there is some fabulous storytelling in Fingersmith.
However, Part 2, and then ultimately Part 3, really fail to live up to the story that is set up initially. In Part 2, we take things from Maud’s perspective and, while it is interesting to hear the “other” side, we literally retread over way too much of the plot again. It becomes a bit long winded. I felt like Part 3 was the weakest of the sections, and many of the revelations and conclusions were anticlimactic. Moreover, the main protagonists of the book, Sue and Maud, really are not that remarkable or sympathetic, so it is hard to become fully invested or care that much about their fates. In the end, it was sort of a big “meh.”
This is my second read from Waters. I really enjoyed The Little Stranger, and would still definitely be interested in picking up some more of her works.