Thursday, October 13, 2011

ARCHIVED REVIEW: Fingersmith (8/3/11)

by Sarah Waters

"All day I sat or walked with her, so full of the fate I was bringing her to I could hardly touch her or meet her gaze; and all night I lay with my back turned to her, the blanket over my ears to keep out her sighs. But in the hours in between, when she went to her uncle, I felt her—I felt her, through the walls of the house, like some blind crooks are said to be able to feel gold. It was as if there had come between us, without my knowing, a kind of thread. It pulled me to her, wherever she was."

Susan, a girl raised among thieves in dirty Dickensian London, is sent disguised as a lady's maid to a cavernous, decaying mansion to woo an innocent, fragile, dowry-full maiden for a rogue known as the Gentleman and help him steal her fortune. She thinks the money is worth it, but all is not as it seems.

This book was excellent! The structure was a strange, measured waltz for two women: the story begins from Susan's point of view, and then, with a dramatic and always unexpected plot twist, the narrative jumps to the other girl. Each time, the same series of events is retold, and everything you assumed was truth is turned on its head. You are constantly on the edge of your seat, wondering what sudden twist the story will take next and how it will all end.

Waters has an incredible eye for detail, and understands how one gesture or sigh can be grossly misinterpreted depending on who you are and where you are standing.

The two tales braid together in a story of treachery, madness, murder, duality, and desire.

And yes, there is lesbian love. It is a lesbian Victorian Dickensian lovefest. Though not as much as I had expected, mostly unrequited passion. What sex scenes there are are beautifully emotional and sensual, rather than sordid, voyeuristic or graphic.

Very well-written, and not a word was wasted. I definitely recommend it to anyone who loves the Victorian Era's underbelly like I do.

If you liked this book, you may like:
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

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