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Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
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Fingersmith (2002)

by Sarah Waters

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,739250947 (4.04)1 / 1118
Orphaned as an infant, Susan Trinder was raised by Mrs. Sucksby, 'mother' to a host of pickpockets and con artists. To pay her debt, she joins legendary thief Gentleman in swindling an innocent woman out of her inheritence. But the two women form an unanticipated bond, which leads to the exposure of Gentleman's actual motives.… (more)
Recently added byrena40, private library, shelbyb, vernaye, Well-ReadNeck, scottyn73, elliepotten
Legacy LibrariesDavid Robert Jones
  1. 181
    The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (wonderlake, teelgee)
    teelgee: Definitely see where Sarah Waters got her inspiration!
  2. 110
    Affinity by Sarah Waters (Booksloth)
  3. 112
    The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber (starfishian, Booksloth, YossarianXeno)
    YossarianXeno: Both rollicking reads covering the more seedy aspects of life in 19th Century London
  4. 40
    The Passion by Jeanette Winterson (kaionvin)
  5. 62
    The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (Alialibobali, BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These novels offer gothic suspense's classic creepy atmosphere, though with somewhat different story-lines. Fingersmith takes place in Victorian England while The Thirteenth Tale is contemporary, but both emphasize books, mysteries about birth and identity, insanity, and grand houses.… (more)
  6. 52
    A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick (teelgee)
  7. 41
    Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue (rich_as_a_queen)
  8. 20
    She Rises: A Novel by Kate Worsley (JoEnglish)
  9. 20
    The Observations by Jane Harris (wandering_star)
  10. 10
    The Talented Mr. Ripley, Ripley Under Ground, Ripley's Game by Patricia Highsmith (charlie68)
    charlie68: Also a series of stories of the anti-hero.
  11. 10
    Wildthorn by Jane Eagland (blacksylph)
  12. 10
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (themulhern)
    themulhern: Books set in an historical English and evoking the writers of that time.
  13. 10
    The Night Watch by Sarah Waters (withwill)
  14. 10
    The Dark Lantern: A Novel by Gerri Brightwell (Electablue)
  15. 10
    Summit Avenue by Mary Sharratt (Anisland)
  16. 00
    Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (charlie68)
  17. 11
    The Book of Human Skin by Michelle Lovric (Cecilturtle)
  18. 00
    After Mrs Hamilton by Clare Ashton (Charmella1)
  19. 00
    Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry (Electablue)
  20. 00
    The Asylum by John Harwood (HollyMS)

(see all 24 recommendations)

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English (244)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (249)
Showing 1-5 of 244 (next | show all)
Yet another read of this favorite. ( )
  amcheri | Apr 29, 2020 |
Raised an orphan in a crowded house in London, Sue is a fingersmith, or thief. She is asked to help Richard 'Gentleman' Rivers in a plan to get a wealthy heiress to elope and marry him. Sue travels to the home where Maud is living under the care of her uncle. Like Sue she is an orphan, after her mother died in an asylum, and she has never known her father. At this secluded country home, she is to pose as a maid and start to gain the trust of Maud.

Until now Maud had been stuck in the house and working with her uncle as he sets about compiling a dictionary. The maid and mistress get on well, and become close friends. As this friendship deepens, Sue realises that she is starting to become attracted to Maud and is now having second thoughts about the plot to deceive her. She carries out the scheme though; Maud and Rivers slip away in the night and are married at midnight by a bribed minister. Installed in a cottage they claim to be making arrangements for her to go to London, whilst making arrangements for her to be committed to an asylum allowing them to share the proceeds.

In part two of the novel, we hear about Maud’s upbringing in the mental institution where her mother was interred. Her uncle took her at the age of eleven to his house where he intended her to become his secretary. It is a loveless relationship as he treats her harshly. After a few years suffering at her uncle’s place; a gentleman visits who claims to have a plan that will help her escape visits her. She grabs at the chance, and a few weeks later it is set in motion.

So the final act is set; and Waters delivers a fine plot as it writhes and twists around, before reaching its dramatic conclusion. Whilst it is set in Victorian England, and has Dickensian echoes all the way though, I felt that it lacked the atmosphere that I was expecting, in particular the London scenes which never seemed squalid enough. The two main characters were pretty good, but the others felt quite two dimensional, just there to fill in the gaps really. Overall good plot, just felt overwritten in the end. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
Sarah Waters has many good novels to her name. This one was the first that was shortlisted for the Booker Prize but two subsequent novels have also been on the Booker Prize shortlist. None of them won the Booker Prize but to make the shortlist shows the calibre of her writing. Is this her best to date? I'm not sure but I did find it very engrossing.

Sue Trinder is a fingersmith i.e. a pickpocket. Very like Oliver Twist's experience with Fagin Sue has been raised to acquire this skill by Mrs. Sucksby, a woman who looks after babies and who took on raising Sue after her mother was hanged. However, when the book starts off Richard Rivers (who is called Gentleman by Sue and Mrs. Sucksby and others) has another game that he needs Sue's help with. He wants Sue to become a lady's maid to an heiress that he hopes to marry, thus acquiring her fortune. Maud Lilly has been living in her uncle's house where Gentleman came to know her. However, her beginning years were spent in an insane asylum where her mother gave birth to her after being put there for conceiving a child out of wedlock. Gentleman's plan is that he will convince Maud to elope with him, they will marry and then he will put her into an insane asylum thus getting access to her fortune. Sue will persuade Maud to acquiesce to Gentleman's suit and she will get three thousand pounds from the fortune for her efforts. Although Sue has no experience as a lady's maid Genteman manufactures a false reference for her and gives her some rudimentary instruction. Sue is clever enough to pull it off and it looks like she will convince Maud. Then she begins to have doubts because she is starting to care for Maud. In fact, she and Maud have a lesbian encounter one night and they both appear to have quite strong feelings for one another. However, things are not quite as Sue imagines them to be. Many twists and turns await the reader. ( )
  gypsysmom | Feb 27, 2020 |
A very interesting book with twists that I didn't see coming. Sue Trinder is an orphan who has been raised by Mrs. Sucksby, getting more attention and affection than the other orphans Mrs. Sucksby has raised in her "Baby Farm". The household is a mixed bag of "fingersmiths" or thieves. People come and go all day bringing their treasures. One day, "Gentleman", and elegant con man, comes to the home with a proposition for Sue. He has been restoring art in a home outside of London and in that home is an heiress, Maud, who will only receive her fortune once she's married. The problem is her uncle rules the home with an iron fist, and wooing her has been impossible. If Sue is hired as Maud's lady's maid, she can chaperone and encourage Maud to accept his advances. His plan goes further. Once he is married to Maud, he will then leave her in an insane asylum; taking her fortune. For her help, Sue will get 3000 pounds. She envisions coming back to the Sucksby home with her riches and finally giving Mrs. Sucksby some of the comforts she deserves. When Sue gets to Briar Manor working for Maud, she finds that she really likes her a lot, and feels she doesn't deserve the fate Gentleman has for her. But it gets more complicated....Any more, and I'd ruin it.
Towards the middle of the book, the actions drags a bit, which is why I gave it only 4 stars, but it's a good story nonetheless. ( )
  cjyap1 | Feb 18, 2020 |
DNF 70% into this book. It was just so boring the only interesting part was the first little twist, after that I could not bring myself to care. I’ve been sitting on this book
for months but every time I look at it I just think ‘meh’ and go do literally anything else . ( )
  katewillett | Jan 31, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 244 (next | show all)
Queen Victoria, while accepting homosexuality in men, is said not to have been able to believe lesbians existed.

Sarah Waters sets out once again to prove Her Majesty wrong in her latest novel, Fingersmith, set - as her other two novels, Tipping the Velvet and Affinity - in Victorian London.

This is hardly niche writing - or even erotic fiction, although the few love scenes are tenderly drawn.

It is instead a tremendous read that draws the reader swiftly into the teeming life that thrived underneath the various repressions of the Victorian era.
 
let's just say that Dickens, the great performer of his own work, would surely have blushed to read it.
added by Ariane65 | editNew York times, Tom Gilling (Feb 24, 2002)
 

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sarah Watersprimary authorall editionscalculated
Abrams, ErikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ascari, FabrizioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
中村, 有希Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
นันทวั… เติมแสงสิริศักดิ์Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Øverås, LinnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bützow, HeleneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bingül, FigenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Borges, Ana Luiza DantasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Calonge, Rosa MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Camp, Marion Op denTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Filat, IoanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gawlik-Małkowska, MagdalenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Houstrup, VibekeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
최용준Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McMahon, JuanitaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Öjerskog, MarianneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Puchalská, Barbora PungeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Retterbush, Stefaniesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ropret, AlenkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vujičić, IrinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zulaika, JaimeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
林玉葳Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Усова, НинаTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
To Sally O-J
First words
My name, in those days, was Susan Trinder.
Quotations
"You've heard, perhaps, of my Index? ... Has there ever been its like? A universal bibliography, and on such a theme? They say the science is a dead one amongst Englishmen. ... Fantastic, when one knows the degrees of obscurity in which my subject is shrouded. ... the authors of the texts I collect must cloak their identity in deception and anonymity. The texts themselves are stamped with every kind of false and misleading detail as to place and date of publication and impress. They are burdened with obscure titles. They must pass darkly, via secret channels, or on the wings of rumour and supposition. Consider those checks to the bibliographer's progress. Then speak to me, sir, of fantastic labour!" ... "And the Index is organized --?" "By title, by name, by date when we have it; and, mark this, sir; by species of pleasure. We have them tabled, most precisely."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Please do not combine Fingersmith the novel with Fingersmith the DVD.
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Book description
From Front Flap of the dust jacket:
"London 1862. Sue Trinder, orphaned at birth, grows up among petty thieves -- fingersmiths -- under the rough but loving care of Mrs. Sucksby and her 'family'. But from the moment she draws breath, Sue's fate is linked to that of another orphan growing up in a gloomy mansion not too many miles away.

From the celebrated author of Tipping the Velvet and Affinity-- a modern-day Charles Dickens or Wilkie Collins -- comes an extraordinary, ingenious tale of fraud, insanity and secrets."
Haiku summary
"Mrs Sucksby was a devil with her dander up."  (lizchris)

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