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Fingersmith (2002)

by Sarah Waters

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
7,2422701,029 (4.05)1 / 1149
"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, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as a maid to Maud Lilly, a naive country 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 disposed of - passed off as mad, and made to live out the rest of her days in a lunatic asylum." "With dreams of paying back the kindness of her family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, she begins to pity her helpless mark and to care for Maud Lilly in unexpected ways...only the first surprise in this Dickensian novel of stunning thrills and reversals."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)
  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
    The Observations by Jane Harris (wandering_star)
  9. 20
    The Talented Mr. Ripley / Ripley Under Ground / Ripley's Game by Patricia Highsmith (charlie68)
    charlie68: Also a series of stories of the anti-hero.
  10. 20
    She Rises by Kate Worsley (JoEnglish)
  11. 10
    Wildthorn by Jane Eagland (blacksylph)
  12. 10
    The Night Watch by Sarah Waters (withwill)
  13. 10
    Summit Avenue by Mary Sharratt (Anisland)
  14. 10
    The Dark Lantern by Gerri Brightwell (Electablue)
  15. 00
    After Mrs Hamilton by Clare Ashton (Charmella1)
  16. 11
    The Book of Human Skin by Michelle Lovric (Cecilturtle)
  17. 00
    Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (charlie68)
  18. 11
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (themulhern)
    themulhern: Books set in an historical English and evoking the writers of that time.
  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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» See also 1149 mentions

English (263)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (270)
Showing 1-5 of 263 (next | show all)
  nagasravika.bodapati | May 4, 2022 |
London 1862, Sue Trinder is an orphan and living with Mrs Sucksby and her family of thieves, fingersmiths. Richard Rivers ' Gentleman' has a cunning plan which involves Sue going to work as a ladies maid to Miss Maud Lilly.

I started to read this book once before and gave up on it very quickly. I decided to give it another go after seeing it featured on BBC 2 Between the Covers. This time around I did finish the book.

It seems to have taken my ages to get through the book. It's a chunky 500 plus pages. The first part of the book I was quite engaged in and was loving the story. Then comes along a major twist.

The second part of the story I felt dragged. Where the first part is mainly following Sue the next follows Maud. However for me it was just a repeat of what I had just read but from the pov of Maud. This part for me was a slog to get through.

The next part is back with Sue. Again I'm back into the story and want to know how it is going to go. This part again drags slightly, and is very grim. Then the rest of the story comes to its conclusion.

Reading Sarah Waters books before I knew what I was going to get. A heavily descriptive narrative with the London part of it bring my favourite. A very long book with an excellent premise, but maybe too long for what it was. ( )
  tina1969 | Mar 17, 2022 |
Wow! LOVED this!!! Read 600 pages in about 2 days. When I started the book I had no idea what it was really about. I saw it as a recomendation from another reader who has similar taste as I do. I am glad that I didn't read a synopsis of this book beforhand as I probably would not have read it...especially if I had read amazon.com's review.

Here is a great review from Eric Anderson:
Sarah Waters' third novel begins simply enough. Sue Trinder is a teenage orphan who lives amongst a group of confidence men, thieves, baby farmers and fingersmiths (a 19th-century term for a pickpockets). An unscrupulous man commonly and ironically known as Gentleman compels Sue to join in his plot to win the heart of an elderly bookish man's niece named Maud. Maud is heiress to a fortune, but she can only claim it if she marries. The plan is: win the lady, ditch the wife in an insane asylum and split the fortune. Sue becomes Maud's maid and when the plot is reaching its timely conclusion is the exact point where it is fractured and split like a forest path into numerous twisting paths revealing long held secrets and hidden strife. Sue and Maud are made to endure separate trials in their journey including the incarceration in a mad house, the subjection of reading and transcribing appalling pornography to a perverted old man and a dangerous journey through treacherous London in search of a friend in order for them to discover what their true pasts consist of and what predestined traits may tweak their futures.
It is fitting that at the beginning of this novel a reference is made to Dickens' Oliver Twist. Fingersmith is a novel descended from Dickens voluminous library as well as much 19th century sensualist fiction. Waters skilled use of language to evoke characters and a sense of place through physical detail and psychological mapping of experience is a distinct characteristic of this descent. She also has a tremendous ability to use fabulous names such as (Mrs Sucksby and Miss Bacon) as Dickens did to mark poignant traits of her characters. Where Waters veers from Dickens is in her conjuring of robust female characters who can dominate the novel, not through the circumstances of their plight and their representation of certain social injustice, but through the powerful voice they use to assert their individual positions. Of course the great descriptions and plotting Waters uses to conjure this tale of a 19th century English plot to capture a family fortune makes a great many statements about the ways in which women were marginalised and the bizarre social positions they were forced to inhabit. However, the great strength of her brilliant protagonists Sue and Maud is in the way their actions are guided more by their impulsive desire to survive rather than to spur the trim, thrilling plot or subscribe to any societal roles presented to them. Their struggles led by these natures produces a longing for a happy resolution built not out of sentimentally contrived conventions, but a deserved reward for revealing to us their faulty human natures.

Sue and Maud are not angels. They both deceive and betray each other, but they discover in this Darwinian world a rare affection for each other and a chance to share confidence when one's closest family is apt to betray you. The curious mirroring effect Waters uses with them, mixing pasts and characteristics of them, is descended from a more recent literary genius, Angela Carter. There are elements of her ideas (particularly realised in her novel Wise Children) on the way identity can be splintered, performed and reimagined which correspond to the ways Susan and Maud's fates are intertwined. Their relationship is drawn out as a struggle to express their mutual love and define their suppressed lesbian desires. But this is also presented as an arduous task to realise the aspects which make them powerful individuals. This novel makes the remote past enticingly familiar and relates a harrowing story that makes you wish it to continue on and on.
( )
  Erica8 | Dec 8, 2021 |
I've thought of reading this off and on since finishing "The Paying Guests" a couple of years ago, and am really glad I did. The length was daunting, but considering it's nearly 600 pages it took me less time to read it than some other books half its length. You are in a consciously Dickensian world, but not one he had the liberty to explore. He is also not particularly good at writing women, with a few notable exceptions. Sarah Waters really knows how to pull you in and keep you in with mounting suspense. Very much enjoyed it. ( )
  Octavia78 | Nov 28, 2021 |
Wauw! ( )
1 vote KarlaWinters | Nov 19, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 263 (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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Important events
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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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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

"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, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as a maid to Maud Lilly, a naive country 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 disposed of - passed off as mad, and made to live out the rest of her days in a lunatic asylum." "With dreams of paying back the kindness of her family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, she begins to pity her helpless mark and to care for Maud Lilly in unexpected ways...only the first surprise in this Dickensian novel of stunning thrills and reversals."--BOOK JACKET.

No library descriptions found.

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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