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Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Fingersmith (original 2002; edition 2002)

by Sarah Waters

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5,187187862 (4.06)913
Authors:Sarah Waters
Info:Riverhead Trade (2002), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 582 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:British, lesbian, fiction, historical, read

Work details

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (2002)

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English (183)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (187)
Showing 1-5 of 183 (next | show all)
This one started off well, very Dickensian: weird characters in an atmospheric London setting – but when the main character switched from Sue’s point of view to Maud’s, the story got very ‘tellie’ and the tension and anticipation just fell down, for me. I believe this was Waters’ first novel, so maybe that’s why the writing isn’t up to where it is in The Paying Guests. The writing is still lovely, but the tension, and character development just aren't evenly there in Fingersmith. It reads preplotted, contrived and dry.

I went out and bought several of her novels after reading The Paying Guests, I was so crazy about that book, so I will just chalk this one up, and hope the others are better. ( )
  CynthiaRobertson | Mar 3, 2015 |
This was not an enjoyable experience. It is narrated by Sue and Maud, with Sue being a girl from the underbelly of London, while Maud is living with her Uncle in a house at the other end of the social spectrum. There is hatched a plot to defraud Maud of her inheritance, by marrying her and putting her in a mad house. Sue is prevailed upon to act as lady's maid to Maud. And a most unbelievable lady's maid she makes too. As if all the training to be a lady's maid could be compressed into 3 days.
So what was so bad about it? It struck me as lazy writing. It was a historical piece, but the time period was never very well defined. It was something Victorian, at a guess, but there were no details or anything concrete on which to hang the story. The story, as told by Sue, then Maud and back to Sue again, produces a lot of duplication. In essence the story is just about twice as long as it needs to be. The change in narrator did not work in that they didn't sound different. While the audiobook narrator spoke them in different accents, the language was not very different, which did not reflect the apparent difference in upbringing. I also failed to empathise with the romance. The famed lesbian interlude, while not my thing, was integral to the plot and passed relatively quickly. However the response of the two girls was not believable. I know love is supposed to make you stupid, but I don't believe it ever makes you that stupid.
In short, not worth the effort. I can't imagine returning to this author again. ( )
  Helenliz | Feb 17, 2015 |
It took me a while to get into Fingersmith. It was a slow moving story and the writing style took some getting used too. It could just be the setting and the fact that the main character was an orphan, but the writing reminded me of Charles Dickens. That was one of my favorite things about the book because it felt authentic, as though the main characters could actually be narrating their story. I liked the slow-burn relationship development and loved reading my first historical fiction with LGBT main characters. I didn't love that the whole plot was just as slow to develop as the relationship. The ending, in particular, felt slow and a bit anti-climactic. I think the book was so slow in part because the writing was very rich and detailed, which isn't a terrible trade off. I've read reviews where bloggers say similar things about Sarah Waters' new book and I still plan on giving it a try.

This review first published at Doing Dewey. ( )
  DoingDewey | Jan 29, 2015 |
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.
  Cirencester | Jan 26, 2015 |
Seriously, this book was incredibly good. Similar to my initial reaction to The Paying Guests, I do think Sarah Waters can be a bit wordy - this was another +500 page book, that probably could've been ~100 pages less. But the plot's twists and turns are so incredibly fabulous, you almost don't notice it.

In Fingersmith, the main character Sue is an orphan who is uniquely raised with loving care by Mrs. Sucksby, a baby farmer, in her house of thieves. When Sue is 17, they are visited by "Gentleman" - a successful con man who often stays at the house, and is well-liked by its residents. Gentleman has a proposal for Sue - if she can become a lady's maid to the "naive, country gentlewoman" Maud Lilly, and assist Gentleman in seducing Maud into marriage, Gentleman will share a portion of Maud's inheritance with Sue and the rest of the house. Once married, Gentleman will suggest his new wife Maud has gone mad, and bring her to an asylum - thus securing the entire inheritance for himself, and Sue. It seems like the perfect con - until things start to go wrong, and Sue has to decide how she feels, and what she really knows about those around her.

The recipe for this book would probably be something as follows:
A dash of love story
A sprinkle of gripping suspense
A gallon of Victorian Gothic, Dickensian atmosphere
A whole can of "I did NOT see that coming."

Definitely an engaging and enjoyable read - I may end up purchasing this one for my shelf. ( )
  skrouhan | Jan 18, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sarah Watersprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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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To Sally O-J
First words
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.)
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)

No descriptions found.

(see all 2 descriptions)

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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