Sunday, 29 January 2017

Review: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Title: Fingersmith
Author: Sarah Waters
Publisher:Virago Press
Pages: 548
Genres: Historical Fiction

No one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and reversals. Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a "baby farmer." Mrs. Sucksby’s household also hosts a transient family of petty thieves--fingersmiths--for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home.

One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives--Gentleman, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a naïve gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, they all will share in Maud’s vast inheritance.

With dreams of paying back the kindness of her adopted family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, Sue begins to regret her decision.
This book strikes the perfect balance between plot and character development/ The plot moved swiftly onwards whilst also giving a lot of character depth. I loved every minute of reading this book and truly savoured it.

I love historical fiction set in Victorian London and Fingersmith did not disappoint. It is a perfect twisty tale with all of the gritty details that I just love. There is filth, poverty, smut, domestic violence, gin fed to babies, a mental asylum and just so much more. From Sue’s home that housed a ragtag bunch of petty criminals to Maud’s dilapidated mansion, the atmosphere was sublime. The narrative splits between Sue and Maud’s POV and then culminates in a highly satisfying ending.

Sue’s POV was my favourite as I felt that Maud’s was a bit repetitive and dragged in parts. My other quibble was that Sue and Maud’s POV sounded very similar and I didn’t feel that Maud in particular had a distinct enough voice. Nonetheless, this didn’t hamper my enjoyment as the twists, mind games and unexpected happenings just kept me happily turning the pages.

There is a F/F romance in this book but I would not classify this book as a romance per se but feels more like a historical thriller. It reminded me a lot of The Butcher’s Hook which I read last year and also loved. This book looks like a chunker but it is so fast moving that it doesn't feel like a slog to get through.

I would recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction that focuses on the seedier side of Victorian England.

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