After I read Tipping the Velvet, the debut novel by Sarah Waters, I was hooked on her writing. Fingersmith, her third novel, is also on my 1001 books you must read list. I should admit that I finished this book last November but haven’t found the time to post my review. A goal in 2013 will be to have more timely reviews. I know I’m setting myself up for failure on this one; however it doesn’t hurt to try.
She published Fingersmith in 2002 and it was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the Man Booker Prize. It won the CWA Ellis Peters Dagger award for Historical Crime Fiction.
The descriptions in Tipping the Velvet wowed me. What dazzled me in Fingersmith was her ability to keep me guessing. At times I started to get angry. Every time I thought I had it figured it out I realized I was completely wrong. I started to feel stupid. This sounds like a complaint, but it isn’t And to be honest, I feel stupid on a daily basis. Ask my cat, I’m an idiot. He’s giving me that look right now.
The novel chronicles Sue Trinder’s life. Sue is an orphan under the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a “baby farmer” living in Victorian England. Mrs. Sucksby raises Sue as if she were her own. The house is always full of babies doused with gin to keep them quiet. Also, they share a home in the slums with fingersmiths, petty thieves.
Sue’s life changes drastically when Gentleman, a con man, enlists her help to swindle a rich heiress, Maud Lilly. Maud will inherit a large sum of money when she marries. The plan is insert Sue into Maud’s home as the heiress’s maid and Gentleman will seduce Maud and marry her. Once the money is safe and sound, they’ll ditch Maud in a lunatic asylum. What could go wrong with this plan? Trust me, you have to read it to believe it. I read this book after a friend recommended it. Each twist caused me to gasp. This novel kept me on the edge of my seat and I stayed up past my bedtime several nights in a row.
Not only did the reversals shock the heck out of me, but the subject matter in this novel angered me. The treatment of women in the lunatic asylum hopefully will make you shudder. My friend who recommended this novel calls Waters a social historian. I readily agree. Not only does she know how to spin a fantastic yarn, but I learn so much from her stories.
There are three more novels by Waters that I haven’t read yet. Which do you suggest: Affinity, The Night Watch, or The Little Stranger.
Now I have a few more reviews to post on novels that I read in 2012. And then I’ll do my best to stay current—seriously I’ll do my best.