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Affinity by Sarah Waters
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Affinity (original 1999; edition 2002)

by Sarah Waters

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,347None2,670 (3.75)189
Member:CaseyStepaniuk
Title:Affinity
Authors:Sarah Waters
Info:Riverhead Trade (2002), Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:British, lesbian, historical, fiction, read

Work details

Affinity by Sarah Waters (1999)

19th century (54) British (47) British literature (18) England (55) fiction (371) ghost stories (16) ghosts (28) glbt (20) gothic (38) historical (57) historical fiction (189) lesbian (136) Lesbian Fiction (20) lgbt (34) London (56) mystery (32) novel (50) prison (68) queer (31) read (38) romance (19) spiritualism (65) supernatural (14) to-read (58) unread (22) Victorian (117) Victorian England (18) Victoriana (20) Virago (15) women (38)
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English (90)  Portuguese (1)  French (1)  All languages (92)
Showing 1-5 of 90 (next | show all)
Waters's style is strong and engaging; her characters come to life with every sentence, and her plot twists are not to be believed. Another brilliant piece from an author who is quickly climbing my list of favorites. To review this book in too much depth would be to rob you of the joy of reading it for yourself, and that is one you should certainly not be denied. A worthwhile read for anyone who enjoys period pieces and a bit of scandal. ( )
  GlitterFem | Apr 11, 2014 |
An interesting story, but not exactly a page-turner for me. Like some other readers, I was a bit put off by its slow start. And like others, I did not see the ending coming. I think others' comments that Margaret is the real prisoner is very astute.

I'm glad I persisted to the finish, but I'm not going to be eagerly searching for another of Sarah Water's books. ( )
  wareagle78 | Feb 8, 2014 |
Affinity is memorable not only for the the Millbank women's prison, but also for the spiritualist subculture, excellent evil characters, and good/evil reversals of fortune. It is , to me, the least overtly erotic, and most psychological of a trilogy (Tipping The Velvet & Fingersmith) which have little in common except the historical period, and heroines who discover the joys of womanly companionship & intimacy.

Whether the Millbank women's prison, or a Kent oyster house, or a London den of thieves, Sarah Waters paints the background and the people in such a way that the lovers' moments when they come are very vivid and real. Scene setting, innocent moments, then accumulations of moments, then avalanches of accumulated moments, and then denouements. These are books that are much more about love than about sex.

Well done.
( )
  grheault | Jan 30, 2014 |
I enjoyed this story. I connected with the main character, Miss. Prior. I understand her 'obsession' with Selina and how badly she wants to believe her. I thought that the author giving us Selina's diary of how her life was before she was guilty of murder and sent to Millbank prison really twisted with the readers perception of what the reality really is.
I hesitate to call this a mystery, as the facts are given but no real crime is being investigated during your reading except for investigating the characters, their desire, wants, needs and desperation.
Not until the last page do you find out the whole truth. I found this riveting and exciting. ( )
  Strawberryga | Dec 28, 2013 |
Waters writes in a language that captivates the imagination and submerges the mind into the depths of a sinking, giant, cold women's prison in Victorian England. It is hard to get through the first 70 pages or so, for it is a slow beginning, and you come to appreciate the mood set by the beginning later. The characters are very well-developed, but perhaps we have the best understanding of Margaret Prior's character and life. Her family life, the demands of "being a lady" in the Victorian era, her troublesome existence are presented in mesmerizing detail. After a while, we know Miss Prior well enough to know what she will do next. And that, in the end, is exactly the one clue one needs to figure out exactly what's going on.

I started off with a bunch of theories, but about 150 pages before the ending, it became clear to me what must be going on, and I was right. Still, the unraveling (or tangling, depending on your point of view) of lives and stories is so-well done, that even if you are sure you know what's going on, you read and read and read to see how masterful Sarah Waters will tell it.

Why not 5 stars, then? Well, I really really do not like these "lady" types. They are so pathetic, so easily "taken ill," and their whining, the "Oh, I am a rich lady, but I must marry, oh but what if I do not want to, oh and I hate being idle" just annoys me. I understand, yes, that simply because they were well-to-do did not mean they were free to do whatever they pleased and yes, in their own way, they were very restricted in what they could do, who they could marry, where they could go, but still, it makes me think that they lacked the courage, the self-esteem, the cunning to subvert the system to do some of the things they wanted to do. This, of course, sets a very stark contrast between the two narrators of the story, though they are both presented as ladies (one a real lady, the other a woman who is "so much like a lady.") ( )
  bluepigeon | Dec 15, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 90 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sarah Watersprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Waters, Sarahmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Abrams, ErikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ascari, FabrizioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
中村有希訳Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carlsson, Irja M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fernandes, IsabelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gawlik-Małkowska, MagdalenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ghersini, TeodoraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Retterbush, StefanieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sørensen, Henrik EnemarkTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zulaika, JaimeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
林玉葳Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Сафронова, АлександраTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
אינגה מיכאליTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Affinity ( [2008]IMDb)
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To Caroline Halliday
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I was never so frightened as I am now.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Set in and around the women's prison at Milbank in the 1870's , AFFINITY is an eerie and utterly compelling ghost story, a complex and intriguing literary mystery and a poignant love story with an unexpected twist in the tale. Following the death of her father, Margaret Prior has decided to pursue some 'good work' with the lady criminals of one of London's most notorious gaols. Surrounded by prisoners, murderers and common thieves, Margaret feels herself drawn to one of the prisons more unlikely inmates - the imprisoned spiritualist - Selina Dawes. Sympathetic to the plight of this innocent-seeming girl, Margaret sees herself dispensing guidance and perhaps friendship on her visits, little expecting to find herself dabbling in a twilight world of seances, shadows, unruly spirits and unseemly passions.
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Margaret Prior, assigned to visit the women's ward of Victorian London's Millbank prison as part of her rehabilitative charity work for a suicide attempt, is drawn into a dark romance with spiritualist Selina Dawes who has been jailed after a seance she was conducting went horribly wrong.… (more)

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