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Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Fingersmith (original 2002; edition 2003)

by Sarah Waters

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,787214733 (4.06)1 / 1041
Authors:Sarah Waters
Info:Virago Press (2003), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 560 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, British, LGBT, Victorian, historical fiction

Work details

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (2002)

  1. 151
    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. 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)
  5. 52
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  6. 30
    The Passion by Jeanette Winterson (kaionvin)
  7. 41
    Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue (rich_as_a_queen)
  8. 20
    The Observations by Jane Harris (wandering_star)
  9. 20
    She Rises: A Novel by Kate Worsley (JoEnglish)
  10. 10
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  11. 10
    The Night Watch by Sarah Waters (withwill)
  12. 10
    Summit Avenue by Mary Sharratt (Anisland)
  13. 10
    The Dark Lantern: A Novel by Gerri Brightwell (Electablue)
  14. 00
    The Asylum by John Harwood (HollyMS)
  15. 00
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel by Susanna Clarke (themulhern)
    themulhern: Books set in an historical English and evoking the writers of that time.
  16. 00
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  17. 11
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  18. 24
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  19. 13
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    YossarianXeno: Both are compellingly written historical novels

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English (209)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  Swedish (1)  All (214)
Showing 1-5 of 209 (next | show all)
(8/10) I very much enjoyed reading this book and will be seeking out Sarah Waters' other novels to read.

It is hard review this without giving too much away but I will do my best. What I enjoyed the most about this was how cleverly it was written, it was a masterclass in atmosphere. There is not lots of action in the book and the story itself is fairly brief, what you get most of is a psychological comparison of two different girls whose lives have become entangled. It is so funny how when a book is written in the first person you are completely sucked in by the character and temporarily inhabit their deeply personal thoughts, then when you switch character and go over the same story you are left with a totally new feeling about everything. I personally preferred Sue as the most relatable of the two but to be honest both were morally questionable throughout and I was never really rooting for either of them.

I think I would need to read this again to pick up all the details in it it was just so complex and well thought out.

A dark and twisted tale of two people thrown together trying to deal with the damage inflicted on them by others and the damage they themselves inflict on other people. I am left very thoughtful after finishing it and think I should next read something with sunshine and rainbows to lighten my mood! ( )
  LiteraryReadaholic | Mar 8, 2017 |
Fingersmith, read as a Victorian Era suspense/thriller, is very good. I couldn't stop reading it. It has all of the best elements of suspense, old creepy mansions, thieves and cutthroats, and madhouses. Waters does a great job painting a picture of the underbelly of London--and also deftly illustrates the segregation between lower and upper classes, thoroughly delineating the divide through even the use of accents. I also like that there are subjects, like Victorian pornography, that defy the general conception of Victorians as buttoned-up. I think, however, that the characters suffer a little from all these myriad elements being thrust into the book. There is a lack of characterization, particularly for Maud, and the romance elements of the book seem forced, especially when compared to her other works. All in all, I really enjoyed it, but I don't know if I'd ever read it again. ( )
1 vote renardkitsune | Feb 11, 2017 |

Originally posted here

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. ( )
2 vote 4everfanatical | Jan 29, 2017 |
To call Fingersmith a lesbian love story is a disservice on many levels. Never mind that the novel is full of titillation (pun intended): there is hot lesbian reasonably graphic passion; a disturbing lesbian gang rape scene; hate-fueled love rants; and plenty of murder. But this is far more than a love story and (for the straight squeamish) the lesbian element is almost beside the point: it is ultimately a novel of crime and resentment and making deals with oneself. It is a novel of class. It entails a patient development of plot, and yet has two narrators who cover precisely the same territory, but somehow tell two entirely different stories. Waters manages to deploy minor characters to great effect: apparent throwaways become important at subsequent times. (I tried not to take offense that the primary villain is a gay man.)

In a nutshell, the story spans generations. A mother of the gentry arrives at the doorstep of a baby-marketing, fencing household in the darker neighborhoods of mid-19th century London. She gives birth, only to have her family track her down. Making a deal with the proprietor of the household, the mother causes her child (Susan) to be raised among the thieves and the child of the thieves (Maud) to be taken away to be raised among the gentry. Years later, in search of fortune, Susan is dispatched to trick Maud into yielding her fortune by marrying her to the gay rascal "Gentleman" aka Richard Rivers. What Susan doesn't realize is that Maud has her own trickery afoot. What follows is a ride through dark country nights and criminal clergy, madhouses and evil doctors. The tables turned on her, Susan is locked away, while the lady Maud, raised among gentry, takes Susan's place on London's streets. Hatred alone can't keep Maud and Susan apart, but it takes a murder to truly bring them together. ( )
1 vote Bostonseanachie | Dec 14, 2016 |
Brilliant! ( )
  Nataliec7 | Oct 31, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 209 (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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My name, in those days, was Susan Trinder.
"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."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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."
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"Mrs Sucksby was a devil with her dander up."  (lizchris)

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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 beloved thief of all arrives-Gentleman, a somewhat elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a nave gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, then they will all share in Maud's vast inheritance. Once the inheritance is secured, Maud will be left to live out her days in a mental hospital. With dreams of paying back the kindness of her adopted family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, Sue begins to pity her helpless mark and care for Maud Lilly in unexpected ways . . . . But no one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and surprises. --Publisher.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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