Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

fingersmithFingersmith by Sarah Waters 2002 582 Pages 5/5 (Easily) Where do I even begin to describe this book? Can I just say it's genius and go read it and leave it at that? That wouldn't be right after all the time I spent with it. It took me nearly two months to read this book. And it's not because it wasn't good, it was. I've just had so much going on recently. When I did sit down with it, I'd read it in 50-100 page chunks and read the last 200 pages in the last two days. Seriously, how have I lived this long without Sarah Waters in my life? I shall no longer go Waters-less, let me tell ya! This book has everything. It's a dark mystery set in 19th century London. There's an amazing cast of characters that are wonderfully developed. There's lesbians. There's insane asylums. There's a very dark, mysterious, gothic overtone to the whole novel. There are twists and turns a plenty that make you gasp for air. The ambiance and the atmosphere is expertly crafted. I really couldn't have asked for anything more in a novel than this. As I said, Fingersmith takes place in 19th century London and it's surrounding area. Mrs. Sucksby runs a very secretive and mischievous home where she cares for orphans who steal and pawn for her and she in turn gives them a place to stay and feeds them. One of her children is Sue. Sue is the child that is most near and dear to Mrs. Sucksby. Sue never knew her own mother. She was only told that she was once a fingersmith herself that was eventually hung for murder. The tenants of Mrs. Sucksby's home are always looking for a way to make money, so when a man who is simply called Gentleman arrives with a scheme to make Sue and Mrs. Sucksby rich, she is unable to pass it up. Sue is to be a servant to a young woman named Maud who lives in a town called Briar, outside of London in the country. The scheme is that Maud is to inherit a great sum of money once she is married. Sue is to convince Maud that she should marry Gentleman so that the money becomes available and the plan is to then send Maud to an insane asylum leaving both Sue and Gentleman with all of the money. But plans don't always turn out as they seem. Sometimes nothing is as it seems. But that's all revealed as the book progresses and I'll leave that for you to discover. What I will talk about a little bit is the relationship between Maud and Sue. This is where Waters shows her true genius as a writer, I think. Maud is a simple girl when Sue meets her. She has lived her life holed up in her mansion writing and cataloguing books for her mad uncle. She spends her days walking through the garden or staring out of a dreary window. She seems haunted in a way. There is trickery abound between Sue and Maud, yet a relationship forms between the two. Here Sue is trying to fool her mistress, but she forms true feelings for her and it's a delicate line to balance. The writing in the scenes between the two of them at Briar was just beautiful and I was truly saddened when that part of the book ended. I felt for the characters that that part of their lives had ended. There's so much to this book that is just gorgeous, so much that is eerie, so much that is wrong, so much that is all just a perfect catastrophe (in a good way). I can't wait to delve into more of Sarah Waters work! I have The Night Watch and Affinity sitting here waiting for me and I'm soon to acquire Tipping the Velvet. This is one that I think can be appreciated by anyone regardless of what your favorite genre is. Give it a go, you won't be disappointed.

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