Fingersmith

Fingersmith

Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a "baby farmer," who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby’s household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, 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 belove...

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Title:Fingersmith
Author:Sarah Waters
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Fingersmith Reviews

  • Paul Bryant

    This totally wonderful novel does exactly what the title says, it fingers your myth, it steals up on your soul and breathes down its neck and a shudder of pleasure is felt to the ends of all your extremities, your brain will wobble, your hair will vibrate strongly, and your eyebrows will be thrust up and down like energetic trampolining children as the intricate-clockmaker plot fastens your eyes ravenously to every page - draw the curtains, do not charge the mobile phone, tell your friends you h

    This totally wonderful novel does exactly what the title says, it fingers your myth, it steals up on your soul and breathes down its neck and a shudder of pleasure is felt to the ends of all your extremities, your brain will wobble, your hair will vibrate strongly, and your eyebrows will be thrust up and down like energetic trampolining children as the intricate-clockmaker plot fastens your eyes ravenously to every page - draw the curtains, do not charge the mobile phone, tell your friends you have gone to Tibet for three weeks, or Saskatchewan if that's less likely to make them worry. If there's an earthquake or a revolution you won't notice. In that way this book is close kin to The Quincunx and The Crimson Petal and the White. I want to be buried with all these three novels. So, you may know it's a Modern Victorian novel, which is a mini-genre I love & want more of, and you may also have heard that in this particular Modern Victorian

    are somehow involved. It is true, but what is more to the point is that a completely enthralling love story is portrayed, which happens to be between two women.

    Five stars each the size of Sirius.

  • karen

    now that i have your attention... dana has been bugging me to write a review of this for the longest time, and now that she is on vacation and out of my path for ten minutes (seriously - the girl moved to my town just so she could stand under my window all night calling "hey!! heyyy!! write a review for

    ! come on, you know you want to!!")

    every night.

    so, now that i have a little breathing room, i will do my best.

    it's true, i want her to read this. i want everyone to re

    now that i have your attention... dana has been bugging me to write a review of this for the longest time, and now that she is on vacation and out of my path for ten minutes (seriously - the girl moved to my town just so she could stand under my window all night calling "hey!! heyyy!! write a review for

    ! come on, you know you want to!!")

    every night.

    so, now that i have a little breathing room, i will do my best.

    it's true, i want her to read this. i want everyone to read this. sarah waters has some amazing strengths - she creates well-developed, complicated characters, she is a master at pacing, she can construct very tight, multi-layered narratives where the next move is always surprising, and she recreates the victorian setting better than anyone else that i have read. there is also a kickass "mystery" plot in here. not a detective-y whodunnit mystery, but more traditionally dickens/collins family mystery with elements of mamet's

    . it is almost 600 pages of puppy-shuddering bliss. but be honest, i had you at lesbian dickens.

    sarah waters is an author i always break my "save one book" vow with - her last two books, i had to buy the very day they came in, i slapped a "do not disturb" sign on my head and i just plowed through them in a matter of hours. and then i felt that gutsick christmas midafternoon void where you look around and whimper hopefully - "more??". she is

    good. and this is her at her very best.

    for me, the best aspect of the victorian is the marginalized, the liminal members of society and what they do to get by. in this case, there is a young woman raised by a band of thieves (a

    of

    !!!) who gets roped into perpetrating a pretty long con only to find herself in a love triangle and perhaps being conned herself.

    but i have said too much!

    seriously - this book is a genuine crowd pleaser, even though the obnoxious lady from last week dismissed it ... "i don't want to sound

    , but i suppose i shall say it anyway.... this looks so....

    ..." (david, i am using your voice here to recreate, i hope you don't mind)

    not that there's anything wrong with "middlebrow", especially coming from a lady like this who proved that she had no idea what a 17-year-old reluctant reader would be pleased to get as a gift and instead was imposing her own values on this poor girl.(shame, shame) hey, kid - hope you enjoy the journals of john evelyn!! a real page-turner!

    poor thing...

    all i know is this is a truly enjoyable and memorable book,and my brows suit me perfectly. hhmph.

    it's also like this:

  • Emily May

    You will probably love it, but even if you don't, it's highly unlikely you will have read anything else quite like it.

  • Steve

    Pigeons and pearls. Perceptions and palpability. I’d explain in detail, but that would spoil all the fun. Instead, as elliptically as I can, I’ll hint at their relevance with vague allusions. Sue was an orphan in Victorian London, raised among thieves. Despite the fact that in the hierarchy of larceny her lot were never more than petite bourgeoisie, Sue’s existence was not as Dickensian as it might have been. Baby farmer Mrs. Sucksby seemed to take a particular shine to Sue, and more or less rai

    Pigeons and pearls. Perceptions and palpability. I’d explain in detail, but that would spoil all the fun. Instead, as elliptically as I can, I’ll hint at their relevance with vague allusions. Sue was an orphan in Victorian London, raised among thieves. Despite the fact that in the hierarchy of larceny her lot were never more than petite bourgeoisie, Sue’s existence was not as Dickensian as it might have been. Baby farmer Mrs. Sucksby seemed to take a particular shine to Sue, and more or less raised her as her own. Then came a fateful day when Sue was 17. A “gentleman” of their acquaintance called on them with an intricate plan. Mr. Rivers, known to them simply as Gentleman, outlined his scheme to bilk a young lady the same age as Sue out of her inheritance. Maud, the young target, lived in a declining but still functioning country estate with a reclusive uncle. Sue was to pose as a lady’s maid and bolster Gentleman’s case for marrying Maud. Sue would then get a cut of the money. So you’re pretty sure you know what I mean by pigeon, right? As for “pearl,” you might imagine those shiny white things cast among swine, or, if you know Sarah Waters and her reputation for lesbian love stories, you might picture lustrous riches in more carnal terms. Part of what I like about this book is that, for reasons of reversed notions, I’m forbidden to elaborate. That means an easier review, benefitting you and me both.

    I can say that the book is broken into thirds. Sue narrates the first part, Maud gets a turn to tell her side of the story in the second, and Sue takes over again at the end. Keenly observed perceptions and perspectives are keys to making this work. But then, things are not always as they seem. As a rule, I like surprises, and Waters gives us some good ones. After reaching critical mass, though, I began reading each scene suspicious of more. To be honest, it became a distraction.

    As for the palpability, you expect that from Victorian England, right? Mind you, we’re not talking about Mayfair here. This is the seedier side, where the muck, the rough edges, and the hard feelings truly

    palpable. Separate from that, the rare moments of tenderness are also honestly felt. As are the relationships, predicated on what each thinks she knows about the other at any given time. I give Waters credit for making me think about surface relations, hidden agendas, and more visceral matters of the human heart.

    I suspect anyone who has read both this book as well as

    is constitutionally incapable of avoiding comparison. I know I can’t. For me,

    gets the nod in the novel-about-fascinating-women-set-in-Victorian-England run-off. It’s unforgettable for its plot, characters and writing. But this one shines, too. The writing is vivid, the language is colorful (even in the title – fingersmith for pickpocket), the plot is engaging, and the emotions are, uh – what was that word? – oh yeah, palpable.

  • Violet wells

    This novel, for me all pastiche, pasteboard and mirrors, really irritated me principally because I could have read two good novels in the time it took me to wade through it.

    For a start it’s way too long. It’s not like Waters is serving up any profound insights into human nature or casting her eye over a wide panorama of human life. It’s essentially a novel that traffics in pastiche (plagiarism?) and is built on two startling plot twists (and as such tailor made for the screen). Waters overwrite

    This novel, for me all pastiche, pasteboard and mirrors, really irritated me principally because I could have read two good novels in the time it took me to wade through it.

    For a start it’s way too long. It’s not like Waters is serving up any profound insights into human nature or casting her eye over a wide panorama of human life. It’s essentially a novel that traffics in pastiche (plagiarism?) and is built on two startling plot twists (and as such tailor made for the screen). Waters overwrites every single scene, always telling us far too much, always throwing yet more wood on the fire which has the effect of continually tipping the emotional register close to melodrama. Whenever a character is in the grip of an emotion it’s like an entire orchestra strikes up operatic music. The dialogue is often ham Victorian slapstick (even the BBC couldn’t rectify this). She also endlessly repeats herself. Doesn’t help that to enable the plot twist she has to write the entire first part again from another perspective. This is often the problem with plot twists – they stifle all the blood out of the characters, they reduce characters to devices. The plot of this novel straitjackets all the characters. The men are pantomime villains. They have no inner life. Are simply wheeled on and off stage when required. The women aren’t much better. They have to do what the plot requires them to do. There’s never a sense that their natural feeling is creating the plot.

    Suspension of disbelief is impossible. So much in this novel is preposterous that it’s as far-fetched as Harry Potter except this isn’t a fantasy novel.

    It quotes or pastiches most of popular Victorian literature. Most notably The Woman in White. But also, of course, Dickens and George Eliot (Casaubon, the ogre of the library, is here compiling an inventory of pornographic literature).

    On a good note it did make me again appreciate the brilliance of Dickens who could do great plot twists without sacrificing character development.

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