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Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Fingersmith (2002)

by Sarah Waters

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,323238948 (4.06)1 / 1089
  1. 161
    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
    A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick (teelgee)
  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
    Wildthorn by Jane Eagland (blacksylph)
  11. 10
    The Night Watch by Sarah Waters (withwill)
  12. 10
    The Dark Lantern: A Novel by Gerri Brightwell (Electablue)
  13. 10
    Summit Avenue by Mary Sharratt (Anisland)
  14. 00
    The Asylum by John Harwood (HollyMS)
  15. 00
    Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry (Electablue)
  16. 00
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (themulhern)
    themulhern: Books set in an historical English and evoking the writers of that time.
  17. 00
    After Mrs Hamilton by Clare Ashton (Charmella1)
  18. 11
    The Book of Human Skin by Michelle Lovric (Cecilturtle)
  19. 24
    Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire (kaionvin)
  20. 13
    Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson (YossarianXeno)
    YossarianXeno: Both are compellingly written historical novels

(see all 20 recommendations)


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English (233)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (238)
Showing 1-5 of 233 (next | show all)
The author has been compared favorably to Dickens and if you enjoy that type of immersive atmosphere this might be just the book for you. But, alas, not for me. While I enjoyed the plot twists, I was weighted down with the author's verbosity and array of unlikable characters. ( )
  MM_Jones | Mar 16, 2019 |
The pacing was a little slow for me but the characters and plot were great. People compare it to Dickens but It reminded me more of Charlotte Bronte, maybe because of the 'mad woman' part of the plot. ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
This novel had been sitting on my shelves for many years; like a number of other reviewers, I picked it up after seeing (and liking) the recent Korean film The Handmaiden. Pleasantly surprised when it deviated from the plot of the movie.

There is an actual call out to Dickens’s Oliver Twist late in narrative. The book as a whole is a clever Victorian pastiche. I suspect the Victorian element may be based more on the author’s reading of Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and the Brontes than on deep study of the times, but then the metaphor of the book is clearly part of the novel’s atmosphere. Illiteracy seems to represent lost innocence and the library comes across as a form of exploitation. Characters modeled on characters from Victorian fiction trying to con characters modeled from Victorian fiction. The role of the will in the melodrama of the time. The irony of Mrs. Sucksby comforted by her fictional daughter. The fictional daughter embracing the writer of erotic potboilers.

The conclusion is rather disturbing, since we have to assume Maud Lilly will do the right thing. But should we? There is her true genealogy, her sadistic treatment of the red-haired maid who preceded Susan Trindle (Smith), her passive (?) complicity in the con, her ugly, classist treatment of the thieves, especially Mrs. Sucksby, made more poignant by what the reader knows is their actual relationship – although it reminded me a bit of Stella Dallas – and her suggested responsibility for the murder. The end may not be the romantic closure that it seems to be on the surface. Can’t help thinking there might be something like Bleak House’s Jarndyce vs Jarndyce post conclusion. ( )
  featherbear | Feb 28, 2019 |
Complex and masterful, Fingersmith, should be one everyone’s reading list – not only women who love women, but for anyone who enjoys a well-thought-out and elegantly written tale of deceit and come-uppance with a huge dollop of romance in it.

Read full review @https://www.bestlesficreviews.com/2019/01/fingersmith-by-sarah-waters.html ( )
  LesficReviews | Feb 6, 2019 |
Two young women in Victorian England. One born to a wealthy family, the other to a low-life criminal. One brought up in a lunatic asylum, the other in a thieves kitchen. One brought up in the world of books, the other illiterate. One living a sheltered life in a grand house in rural Buckinghamshire, the other streetwise and well-versed in the arts of thievery. Throw in an amoral con artist and a manipulative matriarch straight out of Dickens. Draw your own conclusions from that lot. Without reading the book you will almost certainly be wrong. For Fingersmith – it's slang for a thief – is as devious and twisted as the fetid lanes and alleys of the Borough, long buried under Newington Causeway, that hosts much of the action. Nobody and nothing is ever quite what it seems and as soon as you think you have started to make sense of it you are brought up short. All meticulously researched, too.

Few books grip me as they used to. Some demand hard work to dig out their secrets. Some page-turners leave you unsatisfied at the end. Fingersmith was one of the rare ones that you can't let go of, and don't want to end. But end it must, and it left me shattered. ( )
  enitharmon | Jan 14, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 233 (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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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."
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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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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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)

» see all 6 descriptions

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