Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Dark and seductive, Waters weaves a tale of mystery and love that you wont want to put down.

Set in the 1860’s in the crime ridden streets of London’s Borough Sarah Waters tells the captivating story of Sue Trinder, an orphan girl and petty thief raised by her surrogate mother Ms Sucksby. When one day approached by rogue Richard Rivers to take part in his wicked plot to deceive and rob a young lady of her fortune Sue has little qualms in joining the scheme. Encouraged by a sizeable fortune that she will inherit for her troubles Sue agrees to go to the ladies home in the country and act falsely as her maid in order to help encourage her to marry Richard. Once she has been convinced to marry him they will take her from her home at The Briar and send her to a Madhouse,splitting her fortune between them.

Yet when Sue arrives at The Briar she realizes that orphan Maud and her have much more in common than either of them could have predicted and as the plot thickens it becomes evident that their lives have been inextricably linked since birth.

A surprising and intoxicating relationship strikes between the two as Waters juggles a book that is on one hand a fast and compelling thriller whilst on the other a slow burning story of love and desire.

I was gripped from start to finish and what impressed me most of all was the way that Waters managed to explore and portray so many different emotions, experiences, and situations. Everything from the insight into ‘madhouses’ in the 1860’s to the treatment of women during that time, to Victorian erotic literature and the lives of criminals in old London. It’s all packed in here.

Her characters jump of the page with vivid reality and her story is captivating till the last. I can’t recommend this book enough if you’re looking for a novel that flows naturally and has you up late at night in a reading frenzy whilst leaving a thoughtful aftertaste that will have you pondering the dark side of human nature that Waters throws up in this rich and wonderful tale.

I won’t spoil the plot but it’s safe to say I had many moments where I was gob smacked by the intricate turns of events that Waters throws into her story ensuring that there is never a dull moment in the book. Unanswered questions like why Ms Sucksby treat Sue like such a precious child to what it is that marks Maud as such an unusual and troubled young girl become revealed.

The book is on the heavy side coming in at a weighty 548 pages but that only adds to the appeal because once you start this book you wont want to put it down, instead you’ll want to savor the wonderful experience of enjoying this book for the very first time.

Thanks to Dave from Manchester’s Artistic Son for not only nominating this book to me for my Day Zero challenge but also for giving me it as a birthday gift. It was certainly a reading highlight this year and a great way to finish up 2011.



12 thoughts on “Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

  1. I knew you’d like it. Great review, she does stick a lot in there doesn’t she especially with the POV changes – I reckon in hindsight it was the best book I read in 2011. If you like this you might also like Alias Grace by Margaret Attwood.Have a nice New Year!!


    • Thanks for stopping by Dave. I loved it, definitely one of my top 5 this year. I found the change to Maud’s POV a little hard at first, especially when you find out her history but I soon got used to it. Normally I’d complain about a writer cramming so much detail into a book but because I didn’t want it to end it didn’t bother me.

      I’ll check out Alias Grace, think I tried Atwood before and wasn’t a fan but it’s good to give things another go.

      Happy New Year : )

    • I haven’t had much time for reading. I would have like to have read lots of festive books on the run up to Christmas but I was too busy to pick up a single thing.

      This week has thankfully been more chilled, so I’ve read Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams, (Loved Hitchhikers but this didn’t grab me), Stardust by Neil Gaiman, (Loved the film, enjoyed the book. It’s a rare example of a movie surpassing the original book), Darkness Under the Sun by Dean Koontz (a quick horror before visiting the Hellfire, which closes it doors tonight. When it re-opens it will be an Irish bar) and finally I am currently reading How Can I Talk If my Lips Don’t Move? An insight into my autistic mind by Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay. This final book is extraordinary. The author has written about how he perceives things and how he learns. Voices have tastes. Words have colours. He either sees or he hears, but not at the same time. His poetic descriptions have me hooked. I can’t put it down.

      • I would have liked that too but Christmas just came by so quickly.

        It sounds like you managed to do some pretty good reading though. I remeber discussing Stardust with you, I’ve seen the movie too and I think we both said we thought it might be a rare moment when the film was better.

        Are you excited for Hellfire, will you be reviewing it on your blog?

        How Can I Talk If My Lips Don’t Move sounds very unique and interesting, is it autobiograpghical or fiction?

      • It’s autobiograpghical. The author is a 17 year old with severe autism. He still hasn’t learned how to speak properly but he’s written a few books about autism. He was first published when he was 6 years old (poems). I found the book astonishing. I’d like to read more by him.

        I did take photos in the Hellfire and spoke with the owner but I’m not going to review it. It’s closed now anyway so there’s not much point.

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  4. It sounds really interesting, the poems sound good too. I’d really like to read the autobiogrpahy, I’ll have to keep an eye out for it.

    Did you enjoy the Hellfire?

    • I’ve thought about re reading this book sometime. I imagine there will be many things I missed on the first read. Have you read any of her other books?

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