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Stāstā savijušies dramatiski likteņi XIX gadsimta Londonas un tās apkaimes grāfistu tīši noslēgtajā vidē. Divas bārenes spiestas iedzīvoties viena otras ādā, jo viņu piedzimšanas noslēpumu sargā draudi, kas aizsākušies karātavu paēnā. Abām meitenēm nākas pilnā mērā izbaudīt kā Londonas kabataszagļu un padibeņu „ģimenes likumus”, tā „smalko aprindu” slēptos netikumus. Romāna Stāstā savijušies dramatiski likteņi XIX gadsimta Londonas un tās apkaimes grāfistu tīši noslēgtajā vidē. Divas bārenes spiestas iedzīvoties viena otras ādā, jo viņu piedzimšanas noslēpumu sargā draudi, kas aizsākušies karātavu paēnā. Abām meitenēm nākas pilnā mērā izbaudīt kā Londonas kabataszagļu un padibeņu „ģimenes likumus”, tā „smalko aprindu” slēptos netikumus. Romāna skandalozais sižets niansēti, ar izcilu smalkumu attēlo sievietes slēptāko izjūtu pasauli, par ko pat mūsdienās mēdz runāt pieklusināti. Autore ir saņēmusi “CWA Ellis Peters Dagger” balvu par labāko vēsturisko detektīvromānu. “Romāns, kura dēļ jūs apskaužat tos, kas vēl tikai uzsāks to lasīt, – par baudu, ko viņi vēl piedzīvos.” Guardian

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Stāstā savijušies dramatiski likteņi XIX gadsimta Londonas un tās apkaimes grāfistu tīši noslēgtajā vidē. Divas bārenes spiestas iedzīvoties viena otras ādā, jo viņu piedzimšanas noslēpumu sargā draudi, kas aizsākušies karātavu paēnā. Abām meitenēm nākas pilnā mērā izbaudīt kā Londonas kabataszagļu un padibeņu „ģimenes likumus”, tā „smalko aprindu” slēptos netikumus. Romāna Stāstā savijušies dramatiski likteņi XIX gadsimta Londonas un tās apkaimes grāfistu tīši noslēgtajā vidē. Divas bārenes spiestas iedzīvoties viena otras ādā, jo viņu piedzimšanas noslēpumu sargā draudi, kas aizsākušies karātavu paēnā. Abām meitenēm nākas pilnā mērā izbaudīt kā Londonas kabataszagļu un padibeņu „ģimenes likumus”, tā „smalko aprindu” slēptos netikumus. Romāna skandalozais sižets niansēti, ar izcilu smalkumu attēlo sievietes slēptāko izjūtu pasauli, par ko pat mūsdienās mēdz runāt pieklusināti. Autore ir saņēmusi “CWA Ellis Peters Dagger” balvu par labāko vēsturisko detektīvromānu. “Romāns, kura dēļ jūs apskaužat tos, kas vēl tikai uzsāks to lasīt, – par baudu, ko viņi vēl piedzīvos.” Guardian

30 review for Zagle

  1. 5 out of 5

    karen

    lesbian dickens! now that i have your attention... dana has been bugging me to write a review of this for the longest time, and now that she is on vacation and out of my path for ten minutes (seriously - the girl moved to my town just so she could stand under my window all night calling "hey!! heyyy!! write a review for fingersmith! come on, you know you want to!!") every night. so, now that i have a little breathing room, i will do my best. it's true, i want her to read this. i want everyone to re lesbian dickens! now that i have your attention... dana has been bugging me to write a review of this for the longest time, and now that she is on vacation and out of my path for ten minutes (seriously - the girl moved to my town just so she could stand under my window all night calling "hey!! heyyy!! write a review for fingersmith! come on, you know you want to!!") every night. so, now that i have a little breathing room, i will do my best. it's true, i want her to read this. i want everyone to read this. sarah waters has some amazing strengths - she creates well-developed, complicated characters, she is a master at pacing, she can construct very tight, multi-layered narratives where the next move is always surprising, and she recreates the victorian setting better than anyone else that i have read. there is also a kickass "mystery" plot in here. not a detective-y whodunnit mystery, but more traditionally dickens/collins family mystery with elements of mamet's house of games. it is almost 600 pages of puppy-shuddering bliss. but be honest, i had you at lesbian dickens. sarah waters is an author i always break my "save one book" vow with - her last two books, i had to buy the very day they came in, i slapped a "do not disturb" sign on my head and i just plowed through them in a matter of hours. and then i felt that gutsick christmas midafternoon void where you look around and whimper hopefully - "more??". she is that good. and this is her at her very best. for me, the best aspect of the victorian is the marginalized, the liminal members of society and what they do to get by. in this case, there is a young woman raised by a band of thieves (a band of thieves!!!) who gets roped into perpetrating a pretty long con only to find herself in a love triangle and perhaps being conned herself. but i have said too much! seriously - this book is a genuine crowd pleaser, even though the obnoxious lady from last week dismissed it ... "i don't want to sound fatuous, but i suppose i shall say it anyway.... this looks so.... middlebrow..." (david, i am using your voice here to recreate, i hope you don't mind) not that there's anything wrong with "middlebrow", especially coming from a lady like this who proved that she had no idea what a 17-year-old reluctant reader would be pleased to get as a gift and instead was imposing her own values on this poor girl.(shame, shame) hey, kid - hope you enjoy the journals of john evelyn!! a real page-turner! poor thing... all i know is this is a truly enjoyable and memorable book,and my brows suit me perfectly. hhmph. it's also like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quqzSt... come to my blog!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    This totally wonderful novel does exactly what the title says, it fingers your myth, it steals up on your soul and breathes down its neck and a shudder of pleasure is felt to the ends of all your extremities, your brain will wobble, your hair will vibrate strongly, and your eyebrows will be thrust up and down like energetic trampolining children as the intricate-clockmaker plot fastens your eyes ravenously to every page - draw the curtains, do not charge the mobile phone, tell your friends you h This totally wonderful novel does exactly what the title says, it fingers your myth, it steals up on your soul and breathes down its neck and a shudder of pleasure is felt to the ends of all your extremities, your brain will wobble, your hair will vibrate strongly, and your eyebrows will be thrust up and down like energetic trampolining children as the intricate-clockmaker plot fastens your eyes ravenously to every page - draw the curtains, do not charge the mobile phone, tell your friends you have gone to Tibet for three weeks, or Saskatchewan if that's less likely to make them worry. If there's an earthquake or a revolution you won't notice. In that way this book is close kin to The Quincunx and The Crimson Petal and the White. I want to be buried with all these three novels. So, you may know it's a Modern Victorian novel, which is a mini-genre I love & want more of, and you may also have heard that in this particular Modern Victorian lesbians are somehow involved. It is true, but what is more to the point is that a completely enthralling love story is portrayed, which happens to be between two women. Five stars each the size of Sirius.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Violet wells

    This novel, for me all pastiche, pasteboard and mirrors, really irritated me principally because I could have read two good novels in the time it took me to wade through it. For a start it’s way too long. It’s not like Waters is serving up any profound insights into human nature or casting her eye over a wide panorama of human life. It’s essentially a novel that traffics in pastiche (plagiarism?) and is built on two startling plot twists (and as such tailor made for the screen). Waters overwrite This novel, for me all pastiche, pasteboard and mirrors, really irritated me principally because I could have read two good novels in the time it took me to wade through it. For a start it’s way too long. It’s not like Waters is serving up any profound insights into human nature or casting her eye over a wide panorama of human life. It’s essentially a novel that traffics in pastiche (plagiarism?) and is built on two startling plot twists (and as such tailor made for the screen). Waters overwrites every single scene, always telling us far too much, always throwing yet more wood on the fire which has the effect of continually tipping the emotional register close to melodrama. Whenever a character is in the grip of an emotion it’s like an entire orchestra strikes up operatic music. The dialogue is often ham Victorian slapstick (even the BBC couldn’t rectify this). She also endlessly repeats herself. Doesn’t help that to enable the plot twist she has to write the entire first part again from another perspective. This is often the problem with plot twists – they stifle all the blood out of the characters, they reduce characters to devices. The plot of this novel straitjackets all the characters. The men are pantomime villains. They have no inner life. Are simply wheeled on and off stage when required. The women aren’t much better. They have to do what the plot requires them to do. There’s never a sense that their natural feeling is creating the plot. Suspension of disbelief is impossible. So much in this novel is preposterous that it’s as far-fetched as Harry Potter except this isn’t a fantasy novel. It quotes or pastiches most of popular Victorian literature. Most notably The Woman in White. But also, of course, Dickens and George Eliot (Casaubon, the ogre of the library, is here compiling an inventory of pornographic literature). On a good note it did make me again appreciate the brilliance of Dickens who could do great plot twists without sacrificing character development.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    This is a Victorian murder mystery with a lesbian romance. You will probably love it, but even if you don't, it's highly unlikely you will have read anything else quite like it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Pigeons and pearls. Perceptions and palpability. I’d explain in detail, but that would spoil all the fun. Instead, as elliptically as I can, I’ll hint at their relevance with vague allusions. Sue was an orphan in Victorian London, raised among thieves. Despite the fact that in the hierarchy of larceny her lot were never more than petite bourgeoisie, Sue’s existence was not as Dickensian as it might have been. Baby farmer Mrs. Sucksby seemed to take a particular shine to Sue, and more or less rai Pigeons and pearls. Perceptions and palpability. I’d explain in detail, but that would spoil all the fun. Instead, as elliptically as I can, I’ll hint at their relevance with vague allusions. Sue was an orphan in Victorian London, raised among thieves. Despite the fact that in the hierarchy of larceny her lot were never more than petite bourgeoisie, Sue’s existence was not as Dickensian as it might have been. Baby farmer Mrs. Sucksby seemed to take a particular shine to Sue, and more or less raised her as her own. Then came a fateful day when Sue was 17. A “gentleman” of their acquaintance called on them with an intricate plan. Mr. Rivers, known to them simply as Gentleman, outlined his scheme to bilk a young lady the same age as Sue out of her inheritance. Maud, the young target, lived in a declining but still functioning country estate with a reclusive uncle. Sue was to pose as a lady’s maid and bolster Gentleman’s case for marrying Maud. Sue would then get a cut of the money. So you’re pretty sure you know what I mean by pigeon, right? As for “pearl,” you might imagine those shiny white things cast among swine, or, if you know Sarah Waters and her reputation for lesbian love stories, you might picture lustrous riches in more carnal terms. Part of what I like about this book is that, for reasons of reversed notions, I’m forbidden to elaborate. That means an easier review, benefitting you and me both. I can say that the book is broken into thirds. Sue narrates the first part, Maud gets a turn to tell her side of the story in the second, and Sue takes over again at the end. Keenly observed perceptions and perspectives are keys to making this work. But then, things are not always as they seem. As a rule, I like surprises, and Waters gives us some good ones. After reaching critical mass, though, I began reading each scene suspicious of more. To be honest, it became a distraction. As for the palpability, you expect that from Victorian England, right? Mind you, we’re not talking about Mayfair here. This is the seedier side, where the muck, the rough edges, and the hard feelings truly are palpable. Separate from that, the rare moments of tenderness are also honestly felt. As are the relationships, predicated on what each thinks she knows about the other at any given time. I give Waters credit for making me think about surface relations, hidden agendas, and more visceral matters of the human heart. I suspect anyone who has read both this book as well as The Crimson Petal and the White is constitutionally incapable of avoiding comparison. I know I can’t. For me, Crimson Petal gets the nod in the novel-about-fascinating-women-set-in-Victorian-England run-off. It’s unforgettable for its plot, characters and writing. But this one shines, too. The writing is vivid, the language is colorful (even in the title – fingersmith for pickpocket), the plot is engaging, and the emotions are, uh – what was that word? – oh yeah, palpable.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Adina

    It seems that Fingersmith is one of those books that people want to read but are not doing it for some reason. I say this because I have 30 friends that added the title on their TBR shelf. I was also one of them as I've bought the paperback two years ago and I only convinced myself to read it now. I do not regret finally taking the plunge and I recommend my friends to go ahead and do the same because it is worth it. If the size is a deterrent than I can tell you that it does not feel like a 500+ It seems that Fingersmith is one of those books that people want to read but are not doing it for some reason. I say this because I have 30 friends that added the title on their TBR shelf. I was also one of them as I've bought the paperback two years ago and I only convinced myself to read it now. I do not regret finally taking the plunge and I recommend my friends to go ahead and do the same because it is worth it. If the size is a deterrent than I can tell you that it does not feel like a 500+ pages door stopper. Fingersmith is a novel that is strongly based on its plot so I will not say too much about it here. Susan Tinder is an orphan raised by Ms. Sucksby in Victorian London house of schemers and thieves. One of the regular visitors to the house, Gentleman, makes Sue an offer she cannot refuse. She is asked to help him relieve a young woman, Maud, of her fortune. The young woman lives in a Gothic, secluded manor together with his strange uncle. Gentleman secured a temporary job with the uncle and the plan is for Sue to become Maud’s maid, help the thief seduce the young woman into marriage and after the fortune was secured to lock her in a mental hospital. Do expect some crazy plot twists, some of them quite preposterous. The book is structured in three parts, the first and last one narrated from Sue’s POV and the middle one from Maud’s. Sarah Waters is a wonderful storyteller and she manages to perfectly recreate the atmosphere of Victorian London. There is a bit of Dickens feel to this novel which drawn me even more into the adventures of the two young women. After reading this book I feel once again grateful that I live in this era and in a country where women have equal rights. The thought that women could have been sent to a mental institution by their husbands if they did not behave feels so scary and unbelievable to me. I read something similar in another book so this detail was probably not part of the author’s imagination. It was almost a 5 star for me but something was missing. Maybe some of the plot twists were a bit inconceivable, maybe the story was a bit melodramatic. Worth reading, nevertheless

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cecily

    A tricky book to review, partly because it didn't live up to my (possibly unfairly high) hopes and partly because I'm trying to write shorter, punchier reviews, but this was almost 600 pages long. I have failed... Great Expectations Waters is an award-winning historical novelist, who specialises in the Victorian period (and lesbian protagonists). This book was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Orange Prize and her PhD thesis even covers a key subject of this book. I was expecting something l A tricky book to review, partly because it didn't live up to my (possibly unfairly high) hopes and partly because I'm trying to write shorter, punchier reviews, but this was almost 600 pages long. I have failed... Great Expectations Waters is an award-winning historical novelist, who specialises in the Victorian period (and lesbian protagonists). This book was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Orange Prize and her PhD thesis even covers a key subject of this book. I was expecting something like the wondrous sensuality of Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White, in terms of atmosphere, writing and to some extent, content: another “dirty Dickens”. Unfortunately, it fell short. It’s not a bad book, but nowhere near as rich or enjoyable as I'd hoped. Literary Nods I noticed quite a few echoes of classics, and I liked all but one of these little homages. That one though, is the main reason I gave this book only 3*. A fingersmith is a pickpocket, and Oliver Twist is explicitly mentioned on the first page (and a couple of times thereafter). Unsurprising but harmless. There are indirect allusions to Don Quixote, when it's suggested that too much "literature" might trigger madness, and a librarian is “a curator of poisons”. Jane Eyre is a clear inspiration, with a Mrs Rivers (not that there was, quite, one in JE), a magical-realist thread tugging, almost literally, at the heart of a separated lover, and a willful child who is treated rather as Aunt Reed treated Jane. Aspects of the life of one character have eerie echoes of one in Great Expectations ((view spoiler)[raised in material comfort, but corrupted and deliberately inured to love (hide spoiler)] ). Noticing this wasn’t really a spoiler, but it added to the feeling of familiarity, rather than originality. There are quite a few ghost-story tropes, but only in a couple of chapters: fog, a mysterious candlelit figure at a window, clocks striking in a dilapidated house, nightmares… etc. The fundamental problem for me was the numerous parallels to another classic, meaning that the plot of this held few surprises: (view spoiler)[The Woman in White. A young woman living in a large lonely house with an uncle who spends most of his time in the library; uncle’s dodgy friends; enticed away by her drawing teacher; the wrong woman locked in an asylum in an attempt to gain a legacy; Marian/Marianne; some big coincidences… (hide spoiler)] Plenty of authors have successfully based their work on a well-loved tale, so I’m not sure why I had such a problem with this one. I think it’s that I didn’t enjoy it enough in general, coupled with the fact this could be classed as a mystery, so knowing the plot rather killed the mystery. Three Sections, Two Narrators The book is split into thirds. Part one (3*) is narrated by Susan, a girl of about fifteen, who has lived all her life with fingersmiths, in a household that is a slightly more benevolent version of Bill Sykes and Nancy’s establishment. Her storytelling style is necessarily rather plain. She overuses “pretty” as a modifier (“pretty precious”, “pretty good”) and sprinkles the odd bit of thieves’ slang, yet it didn’t conjure the right tone for me. Part two (4*) is narrated by Maude, who is the same age, but living in a country house with her reclusive uncle. I really enjoyed this section, partly because her more descriptive and thoughtful voice was more engaging, but mainly because of the way this section repeatedly refuted so many of my assumptions and quibbles in part one, and raised questions about most of the others. Almost nothing is as it seemed. “Why should my uncle lie?”… “Why should he tell the truth?” Part three (2*) was back to Susan. That in itself was predictable, and most of the plot was too. Anyone struggling with part one who is tempted to skim it to get to part two really shouldn’t, otherwise the contrasts and contradictions will be lost on them. SURPRISE!? Several reviews mention the frequent and surprising plot twists. I didn’t really notice any until the end of part one, and once I realised the book whose plot it follows, most weren’t really surprises, though they certainly count as twists: so many lies and so much double-crossing and confusion. I can see why it can be exciting: love, betrayal, mistaken identity, wealth, madness, revenge, escape, transformation, murder… yet excitement eluded me. Fingering Waters is well known as a lesbian writer who often includes lesbian themes. That crops up here, but is not extensive enough to sway readers one way or the other when deciding whether to read it. Fingers feature prominently though, mainly in part two. Maude always wears spotless gloves and her uncle has a big brass plaque on the library floor beyond which servants must not cross, lest their eyes damage the books. He says it’s in the shape of a pointing finger. Erotica or Porn? This book is neither, but it indirectly raises question about the distinction. “The flesh made word” was a neat (and maybe slightly heretical) definition. “Words… they seduce us in darkness and the mind clothes and fleshes them.” Abuse Some have suggested books should have trigger warnings. It can be tricky to do that without spoilers. There’s nothing graphic here, but abusive and manipulative relationships of various kinds are explored here. “I might pass for a girl in an allegory, Confidence Abused”. One interesting angle is that (view spoiler)[the situation that would alarm modern social services is less damaging than the comfortable and outwardly respectable one (hide spoiler)] . There’s also the quotidian dishonesty of and betrayal by lifelong crooks, but that’s rather different. Willing Suspension of Disbelief? These factors contributed to why it didn’t feel Dickensian enough to me (it’s set in 1862). It seems mean-spirited to check these things out, but I did. If you’re fond of this book, or haven’t read it, skip this section. (view spoiler)[Right from the start, the name Susan bothered me. It gnawed away at me. I was surprised to find it was not as uncommon as Maud(e), though it was far rarer than Anne or Margaret. My bad. Another character is frequently seen smoking a cigarette (sometimes from a pack, sometimes he rolls his own). Again, that seemed noteworthy, and again I checked. This proved far less likely. Searching published documents of the period, Google Ngrams finds hardly any occurrences of the word at the time. You can see the charts here: https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph... %3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2CSue%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2Ccigarette%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2CMaud%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2CMaude%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2CMargaret%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2CAnne%3B%2Cc0. Ngrams is far from perfect, but it’s a handy resource. (hide spoiler)] I was also distracted by a Chekhov’s Gun that never properly went off ((view spoiler)[Maude steals a razor blade, vandalises a book rather than slit her sleeping uncle’s throat, but doesn’t use it on subsequent occasions when it would have been really useful (hide spoiler)] ) and Waters’ rather odd way of introducing direct speech: She said, “Direct quote as new paragraph, following on from paragraph that ended with a comma.” Had I been enjoying it more, I would probably have been able to ignore these issues. More positively, some of the things that seemed improbable in part one turned out to have vaguely plausible explanations in part two, and as with many Victorian novels, guilt is a major theme, though here the twist is that few have more than a passing acquaintance with it. Rating Overall, not a bad book, but nowhere near as enjoyable as I'd hoped. It was a page turner (though towards the end, I wanted to speed it up a bit), but it just didn’t speak to me – and I did listen. If I'd never heard of it or the book it’s based on, I would probably have given 4*, but my enjoyment was only 3*. Quotes • “Stitching dog skins onto stolen dogs, to make them seem handsomer breeds”. Not a crime I’d ever heard of! • “Servants grow sentimental over the swells they work for, like dogs grow fond of bullies.” • “How many stories does one man need?” The question relates to the uncle in his library, but it could be asked of many of the double and triple-crossing characters in the book. • “The silence, that my uncle cultivates… as other men grow vines and flowering creepers.” • “It is not the prospect of whipping that makes me meek. It is what I know of the cruelty of patience.” • “My obedience enrages her more than ever my passions did.” • He “carries his daring, his confidence, close and gaudy about him, like swirls of colour or perfume.” • “Even wax limbs must yield at last. to the heat of the hands that lift and place them.” • “A man in love with his own roguery.”

  8. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Holy Crackers! What a read! I felt like Alice falling down the Rabbit Hole. This story has more twists and turns than a shopping cart caught in the wind in a Walmart parking lot. When you commit to this one, please know that it is heavy lifting at almost 600 pages. Some parts are easily predictable, while other parts leave you smarting from the surprise attack. Many others have done an excellent job in relaying the plot design here. I won't go into that aside from saying that Sarah Waters has an Holy Crackers! What a read! I felt like Alice falling down the Rabbit Hole. This story has more twists and turns than a shopping cart caught in the wind in a Walmart parking lot. When you commit to this one, please know that it is heavy lifting at almost 600 pages. Some parts are easily predictable, while other parts leave you smarting from the surprise attack. Many others have done an excellent job in relaying the plot design here. I won't go into that aside from saying that Sarah Waters has an exceptional talent of sculpting her characters befitting of the Dickens era right down to the crisp dialog. I was intrigued from the start. It's like throwing out the time old question of, "Who are you, REALLY?" Be prepared for some crazy zapped answers to that one. "We have a name for your disease. We call it a hyper-aesthetic one. You have been encouraged to over-indulge yourself in literature; and have inflamed your organs of fancy. You have read too much." Such was told to women of the day. That quote from the book left me laughing with my head fully tilted back and thinking, dear reader, how you and I would be locked up for sure from mega hours and years of "taking to the literature". Maybe that is why I tend to be glassy-eyed and incoherent after a block-buster read. Now there's a name for that......

  9. 4 out of 5

    Limonessa

    I have to admit that throughout almost all of Fingersmith the main random thoughts sweeping across the desolate land of my mind were along the lines of: WTF? WHAT? WHAT DID JUST HAPPEN? This is an intricate, ambitious, original, jaw-dropping, gut-punching, heart-wrenching plot for which I will NOT give you a synopsis. First, because I wouldn't know where to start from and second because it's better for you if you know NOTHING about it. Then you'll have my same random thoughts, as stated above. I' I have to admit that throughout almost all of Fingersmith the main random thoughts sweeping across the desolate land of my mind were along the lines of: WTF? WHAT? WHAT DID JUST HAPPEN? This is an intricate, ambitious, original, jaw-dropping, gut-punching, heart-wrenching plot for which I will NOT give you a synopsis. First, because I wouldn't know where to start from and second because it's better for you if you know NOTHING about it. Then you'll have my same random thoughts, as stated above. I'll just give you a few fundamental points: you need to know it's set in Victorian England, it's about thieves, an elaborate scam and it is not for people who don't tolerate gratuitous cruelty, mind games and deceptions in their books. Actually, I'd say its main theme is just that: DECEPTION. This is not what I would usually pick up: books that keep continuously on edge, anxious, oppressed, frustrated, puzzled, even nauseated at times are so not my cup of tea. So while on the one hand I gave it 4 stars because I did like it, on the other hand I cringe when I look at it, even now, a few days later. But I guess it's just what I am meant to feel, for such a book. So yes, a success in its genre. My main complaint is its length. Its change of pace unsettled me, starting off as dull, then giving you a big punch in the face around one third in, then lulling again for quite a long chunk to finish off with a great epilogue. So while some parts where breath-taking and put me in a frenzy (I swear I was tachycardic), some other parts kind of put me in a stupor (while monsoons where still blowing my mind and I was trying to figure out what could possibly happen next.) All in all a great read but not for the faint of heart. I'm pretty sure I want to read something else by this author, once I get over the persecutory delusions I developed with Fingersmith.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Candise

    A friend knocked on my door one evening and I answered, looking disheveled and I think a bit frightened. She asked me what was wrong, if she had interrupted something. I said no, that I had just been reading Fingersmith and I was really stressed out because now I had to leave the house and didn't know what was going to happen next. And that is basically how this book took over my life (in a good way). Sue is an orphan who lives in London in a house of petty thieves. A con man known as Gentleman c A friend knocked on my door one evening and I answered, looking disheveled and I think a bit frightened. She asked me what was wrong, if she had interrupted something. I said no, that I had just been reading Fingersmith and I was really stressed out because now I had to leave the house and didn't know what was going to happen next. And that is basically how this book took over my life (in a good way). Sue is an orphan who lives in London in a house of petty thieves. A con man known as Gentleman convinces her to take a position as the maid of young wealthy heiress Maud Lilly, and in doing so, help him seduce and swindle her. The intimate nature of their relationship as well as the underlying plot allow the two girls to grow much closer than either anticipated, as each one has so much at stake. I literally couldn't put this book down. When I had to leave the house I took it with me, hoping that I might get a moment to read a little further. There were so many plot twists, but the amazing thing was that it was actually smart and unpredictable. I gasped out loud. I actually yelled, "No fucking way!!" on page 183 (only a third of the way into the novel). When I wasn't reading, I used up my brainpower guessing about what would happen next, how the heroines could get out of the situation. To put it bluntly, I was obsessed. Everyone I've talked to about this book has had the same experiences. So if you enjoy obsessing and agonizing over a novel that will overtake your life for at least a week and make you anxious and excited, then this is definitely the book for you. In fact, if you love fiction at all, you should read this book immediately.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rosh

    What a wondrously-rendered, gloriously languid 19th century roman noir! Using imagery that springs to mind so vividly one would think it a memory, Sarah Waters has fashioned a glorious work of fiction. Fair maidens and dastardly villains; country estate and insane asylum; den of thieves and literary purists; murder and mayhem in Victorian London; Sarah Waters manages to blend it all and produce one whale of a story that had me gulping it ravenously into the night, coming up for air only when it What a wondrously-rendered, gloriously languid 19th century roman noir! Using imagery that springs to mind so vividly one would think it a memory, Sarah Waters has fashioned a glorious work of fiction. Fair maidens and dastardly villains; country estate and insane asylum; den of thieves and literary purists; murder and mayhem in Victorian London; Sarah Waters manages to blend it all and produce one whale of a story that had me gulping it ravenously into the night, coming up for air only when it was done. If you crave authentic historical fiction, clever plot twists, and a fine romance, I highly recommend you don't miss this gem.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tatiana

    As seen on The Readventurer Fingersmith packs quite a few twists and surprises. At first, after reading the book's plot summary, I expected it to be a rompish, Les Liaisons Dangereuses-like adventure. 17-year old Susan Trinder, a foster kid in a family of fingersmiths (thieves), is recruited to act as a lady's maid to equally young and wealthy Maud Lilly. Susan's role in the devious scheme is to gently push this naive and simple-minded girl into the arms of Mr. Rivers, strip Ms. Lilly of her inher As seen on The Readventurer Fingersmith packs quite a few twists and surprises. At first, after reading the book's plot summary, I expected it to be a rompish, Les Liaisons Dangereuses-like adventure. 17-year old Susan Trinder, a foster kid in a family of fingersmiths (thieves), is recruited to act as a lady's maid to equally young and wealthy Maud Lilly. Susan's role in the devious scheme is to gently push this naive and simple-minded girl into the arms of Mr. Rivers, strip Ms. Lilly of her inheritance and then dump her in a madhouse. Needless to say, the story didn't quite turn out to be about a man seducing an innocent girl out of her knickers and money. Like every other reviewer, I will refrain from revealing anything more of the plot. Let's just say, Fingersmith becomes a much, much darker tale full of violence, abuse, betrayal, dark secrets and a little bit of girl love (not explicit like in Tipping the Velvet). Nothing in this novel is what it appears to be on the surface. Very few modern authors manage to write historical fiction that sounds authentic. Sarah Waters is one of the few that can do it exceptionally. I haven't read much Dickens to enter a flowery comparison here, but Waters' prose is very much on par with the best 19th century writers, only slightly more explicit and touching on the subject hushed out in the mainstream fiction of that era (I am talking porn and reprehensible way of treating wealthy women behind closed doors and in houses for crazies). Knocked down a star for the not long enough ending and necessary to the plot, but nevertheless often redundant, middle part.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Madeline

    “I have some knowledge of the time that may be misspent, clinging to fictions and supposing them truths.” Sue Trinder is an orphan living a Dickensian-like life in 19th century London - her mother was hanged as a murderer when Sue was a baby, leaving Sue to be raised by Mrs. Sucksby in a "baby farm" in the slums of London. Sue grows up surrounded by thieves and pickpockets ("fingersmiths"), learning to counterfeit coins and commit petty crimes, and then one day she's offered a chance at a much bi “I have some knowledge of the time that may be misspent, clinging to fictions and supposing them truths.” Sue Trinder is an orphan living a Dickensian-like life in 19th century London - her mother was hanged as a murderer when Sue was a baby, leaving Sue to be raised by Mrs. Sucksby in a "baby farm" in the slums of London. Sue grows up surrounded by thieves and pickpockets ("fingersmiths"), learning to counterfeit coins and commit petty crimes, and then one day she's offered a chance at a much bigger job. A con man known as Gentleman has a plan to trick an heiress out of her fortune by seducing and marrying her (and then dumping the girl in an insane asylum once he has the money), and he needs Sue to pose as the girl's maid and spy on her. But as in all good crime stories, the job isn't as simple as it sounds, and everyone has their own agenda. And it turns out that Sue's target, the innocent heiress Maud Lilly, has secrets of her own that Sue will discover...(Homer Simpson voice) with sexy results. Here's an indication of how good Fingersmith is, and how well it hooks you - I read this book six months ago, but I can still remember every great plot twist and betrayal that happens. It sticks with you, is what I'm saying. The book is divided into sections based on character perspective. First we're in Sue's head, learning the details of the job and going to the Lilly mansion to pull off the con. Just as soon as we feel comfortable, and are confident that we know what's going on, Waters yanks the rug out from under us. The con, we learn, is not what we thought it was, and then, in the next section, we get to read the same scenes again - but from Maud's perspective this time. And Waters isn't done! After that, we get another section, just to drive home the point that every time we thought we had the whole story, we were wrong. Con men (and women), romance, revenge, skullduggery, betrayals on top of betrayals! What's not to love? AND NOW A NOTE ON THE MOVIE: The Handmaiden, Park Chan-Wook's adaption of Fingersmith, is fascinating for a lot of reasons. First, changing the setting to 1930's Korea works really, really well, and the movie sets just the right beautiful but vaguely suspicious tone that the novel requires. The changing perspectives are handled well too, and as a bonus, the romance elements are lovely and charming and sexy. (fun fact: I saw this movie in theaters, and let me tell you, it is quite an experience to sit in a room full of people all maintaining mature, thoughtful silence while we watch two women [redacted because of spoilers and children present]) Also, if you saw the movie but didn't read the book, man you are missing out, because The Handmaiden cuts off Waters' story about two thirds of the way in, because they just didn't have enough time to explore all the plot twists from the original. So if you liked the movie, please go read the book, because there are some major, major bombshells that you still need to know about.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Britany

    My oh my- take me back to the beginning of the century! This book was simply delightful and hard to set down. Susan Trinder is orphaned into a home for thieves, pickpockets if you will, AKA fingersmiths! She is raised poor and learns to steal, cheat, and lie her way through life with her pals- Mr Ibbs (an olden day pawn shop owner), Gentlemen, and of course who could forget Mrs. Sucksby? The mama bear of the house. Susan turns 17 and Gentlemen has come up with the con to end all cons-- taking ad My oh my- take me back to the beginning of the century! This book was simply delightful and hard to set down. Susan Trinder is orphaned into a home for thieves, pickpockets if you will, AKA fingersmiths! She is raised poor and learns to steal, cheat, and lie her way through life with her pals- Mr Ibbs (an olden day pawn shop owner), Gentlemen, and of course who could forget Mrs. Sucksby? The mama bear of the house. Susan turns 17 and Gentlemen has come up with the con to end all cons-- taking advantage of the niece of a wealthy man up in the country. He plans to marry her and then send her to the madhouse and run off with her money. He uses Sue as a cog in the scheme to become employed as the maid to this very special niece-- Maud Lilly. That's the premise and that's all I'm saying about the plot because the execution left me hanging onto every single printed word. This book has been hailed as a modern Dickensian novel, and I savored every long chapter Ms. Waters presented. Broken down into three parts- the author takes her time weaving a solid storyline with fleshed out characters and just as she manages to sell her story, she pulls the rug right out from underneath the reader. Plot twists always leave me satiated. especially ones completely changing the perspective for me. I fell in love with old London, the characters and the writing. My only complaint was how much I abhor long chapters- however these flew by rather quickly considering. My first by Sarah Waters and definitely not my last. Well done and I would highly recommend.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Darling

    Reread December 2016 after seeing THE HANDMAIDEN. ------------- A superbly written novel, full of great twists and turns. You may be able to guess some of what's going on, but the author will still surprise you with daring prose and unexpected red herrings. If you've never read the author before (as I had not) I'd recommend not reading ANY reviews about the book, not even the Amazon general description. The book jacket and this http://orangeprizeproject.blogspot.co... should whet your appetite en Reread December 2016 after seeing THE HANDMAIDEN. ------------- A superbly written novel, full of great twists and turns. You may be able to guess some of what's going on, but the author will still surprise you with daring prose and unexpected red herrings. If you've never read the author before (as I had not) I'd recommend not reading ANY reviews about the book, not even the Amazon general description. The book jacket and this http://orangeprizeproject.blogspot.co... should whet your appetite enough. Trust in the author to do the rest.

  16. 4 out of 5

    ✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)

    Part I of the book and its Oh My Bloody Shrimping Twist of Flabbergastation (OMBSToF™) were pretty fishing cool. I mean, Victorian mystery + thieves and cons + lesbian heroines + um, you know, that, um, twist = Yes, this ⤴ does mean I almost nearly enjoyed the beginning of the story. Part II was pretty good at first, but then it all started getting somewhat sort of moderately boring after Spoiler Spoiler Spoiler (not the character’s real name) did spoiler spoiler spoiler and ended up being spoiler Part I of the book and its Oh My Bloody Shrimping Twist of Flabbergastation (OMBSToF™) were pretty fishing cool. I mean, Victorian mystery + thieves and cons + lesbian heroines + um, you know, that, um, twist = Yes, this ⤴ does mean I almost nearly enjoyed the beginning of the story. Part II was pretty good at first, but then it all started getting somewhat sort of moderately boring after Spoiler Spoiler Spoiler (not the character’s real name) did spoiler spoiler spoiler and ended up being spoilered spoilered spoilered in spoiler spoiler spoiler (I have a special talent for faithful–and not too revealing–plot recaps, I know). It wasn’t bad, just a teensy little bit, you know, not fascinating and stuff. Not exactly sleep-inducing, but definitely crank-up-the-narrator-speed-to-3x-who-cares-if-you-don’t-understand-what-the-fish-she’s-saying-prompting. Then we got another plot twist, which wasn’t nearly as flabbergastatingly flabbergastating as the first. I do dare say it was indeed as predictable as me saying “unleash the crustaceans” at the sight of a YA Historical Paranormal Romance. Oh, what a most fitting analogy! Go me and stuff. Anyway, so the not unexpected twist ♫twisted things again♫ (view spoiler)[yeah, that was pretty lame, I know. But what can I say, I can’t be all brilliance, all the time, can I? (hide spoiler)] , and that was the end of Part II and stuff. Part III was a significant improvement on well, um, you know, part II, mostly because I like Spoiler Spoiler Spoiler better than I do Spoiler Spoiler Spoiler (the characters’ names have been changed to protect their privacy). But that’s neither here spoiler spoiler spoiler nor there spoiler spoiler spoiler. I have to say I particularly enjoyed when Spoiler Spoiler Spoiler spoilered spoilered spoilered to spoiler spoiler spoiler. But then it all fell like a bloody stinking soufflé again, and most of the ending felt like the OTT pastiche of a Victorian drama. So ew ew ew and stuff. Yes, it is revoltingly true, the story is original. But the plot, although intriguing at first, slowly fizzled out like a steamed lobster on a long summer night (view spoiler)[my poor baby!!!! (hide spoiler)] . Granted, Juanita McMahon, the narrator, does a pretty good job, but it didn’t make up for the never-ending blah blah blah, deadly repetitions of doom and one-dimensional characters. So, all in all, I’d say: Yeah, pretty much.

  17. 5 out of 5

    lov2laf

    If you like being tortured or sit on pins and needles for an entire read, and by entire read I mean THE ENTIRE READ from the first line to the very last, then this is the book for you. And, damn, this thing is nearly 600 pages or 23 hrs if you're listening to the audiobook. On the final line of the last page I felt like I emerged from a bunker since sinister doom was around the corner at every turn. What saves it, though, is that the book is brilliant and well-crafted. The prose is rich, every cha If you like being tortured or sit on pins and needles for an entire read, and by entire read I mean THE ENTIRE READ from the first line to the very last, then this is the book for you. And, damn, this thing is nearly 600 pages or 23 hrs if you're listening to the audiobook. On the final line of the last page I felt like I emerged from a bunker since sinister doom was around the corner at every turn. What saves it, though, is that the book is brilliant and well-crafted. The prose is rich, every character is solid and nuanced, and the twists and turns are truly unexpected. The story is vivid and multi-layered. There's a lot to analyze if one so wishes but it also can just be read at the surface, too. I can absolutely see why it gets the praise that it does. I agree with some other critics that the book did feel too long. Though each page is written well, a big chunk of the 2nd narrator could've been chopped to make the pacing less of a drudgery. If Waters intended for the fuller storytelling to add to the dread and suspense, though, mission accomplished. As for genre, this is a historical fiction set in England during Victorian times that stars two seventeen year-old women and highlights the horrific disparities of class and sex. A same-sex relationship is present and impacts the story but it also is so very minor in the grand scheme of things. We get it for a very short time early on in the story and, once it's done, we don't really get it again. So, is it a romance? As a blip, yes. And, no, I wouldn't label this as young adult (YA). If it had a theme it would be "Things are not as they seem." We get switching alternative view points between the two leading ladies of the story, Maud, the lady, and Susan, the lady's maid. Both have a distinct voice and, as a reader, I'm torn between rooting for each of them while also hoping they trip. Sarah Waters enjoys putting her readers in this pickle just as much as her characters. As the story unfolded I kept going along thinking "This can't happen. Surely, something will come through in the end to make things different". But, alas, that is not to be and things unfold in a gut-turning manner. I will say, the book does have a sober yet happy ending. Thank goodness because, if it didn't, I'd really really hate this book. As it is, I at least got a sigh of relief in the end which made the ordeal worthwhile. For the read, I did listen to the audiobook version which was narrated by Juanita McMahon and she was absolutely fantastic throughout. She's a professional actress and makes the words sing and come to life. I really don't think the narration could have been any better so major kudos to her. Technically speaking, "Fingersmith" is a five star book but the non-stop angst and the longer narrative did impact my enjoyment. I don't want to be that stressed during a read so I put this somewhere between 4 and 4.5 stars. If you choose to read this, tuck in, and don't forget your food rations and bunker helmet. You're going to need it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Hugh

    This was my first experience of reading Waters - I had been deterred by having seen some of the rather silly TV adaptation of Tipping the Velvet, but when this was chosen as a group read by the 21st Century Literature group I thought I should give it a chance. Waters has clearly steeped herself in Victorian literature, and on one level this is a classic Victorian potboiler full of outlandish plot twists, coloured by the kind of period detail familiar from the likes of Dickens and Hardy. The plot This was my first experience of reading Waters - I had been deterred by having seen some of the rather silly TV adaptation of Tipping the Velvet, but when this was chosen as a group read by the 21st Century Literature group I thought I should give it a chance. Waters has clearly steeped herself in Victorian literature, and on one level this is a classic Victorian potboiler full of outlandish plot twists, coloured by the kind of period detail familiar from the likes of Dickens and Hardy. The plot twists are so outrageous that I won't spoil them here. The two central characters (a classic pair of opposites) are two young women. Sue is an orphan brought up in a criminal household in London's underworld, and Maud is an heiress confined to her uncle's lonely mansion by the Thames near Marlow. The first and last parts are narrated by Sue, and the middle part by Maud, and they both drawn into a plot to gain Maud's inheritance, which is dependent on her marriage. Waters explores many aspects of Victorian society and its hypocrisy, focussing on the experiences of women and their limited choices, with fascinating asides on mental hospitals, erotic fiction and various forms of criminal activity, some of which stretch the reader's credulity. This was a very enjoyable read, so much so that I read most of the second half of the book in one day, if for me a little too melodramatic to be entirely satisfying.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Helene Jeppesen

    4.5/5 stars. I don't like to use this word but this book was definitely a "mind-fuck". I went into it not knowing much about it other than that Sarah Waters has written it, a lot of people have recommended it and I had previously read "Tipping the Velvet" by Sarah Waters, so I wanted to read more by her. I LOVE that I didn't know what was coming because that made the reading experience so much more intense. I was in awe at several points in the book and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out 4.5/5 stars. I don't like to use this word but this book was definitely a "mind-fuck". I went into it not knowing much about it other than that Sarah Waters has written it, a lot of people have recommended it and I had previously read "Tipping the Velvet" by Sarah Waters, so I wanted to read more by her. I LOVE that I didn't know what was coming because that made the reading experience so much more intense. I was in awe at several points in the book and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what was going on. Sarah Waters plays with the reader and provides you with incredible plot twists, and she manages to weave it all together perfectly through small details and descriptions that are repeated during the narrative. I loved it! I would like for everyone else to read this book without knowing too much about it, and therefore I'm not going to say much else. But trust me when I say that this book will pull tricks on you, so if you like those kind of reading experiences you should definitely pick it up :)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Daniella

    Part 1 = Amazing. Part 2 and 3 = Is this book over yet?!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    Boring. Just boring. Painfully painfully boring. Are you willing to slough through 592 pages of wanna-be Victorian writing for a couple of plot twists and lesbian sex scenes? Half the damn book was Waters narrating in excruciating detail who blushed when. Or, as she puts it, whose "face coloured" when. Note the 'u' in colored. That means that it's a classy British book and not at all a bland excuse to foist a little bit of bean-fiddling on those who are too repressed to admit that that's what the Boring. Just boring. Painfully painfully boring. Are you willing to slough through 592 pages of wanna-be Victorian writing for a couple of plot twists and lesbian sex scenes? Half the damn book was Waters narrating in excruciating detail who blushed when. Or, as she puts it, whose "face coloured" when. Note the 'u' in colored. That means that it's a classy British book and not at all a bland excuse to foist a little bit of bean-fiddling on those who are too repressed to admit that that's what they really want to read about. I will never forgive the person who recommended this book to me.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Catie

    This book is like the most filling and nutritional junk food meal I’ve ever eaten. It has so many of the hallmarks of fluffy escapist literature: breathless action, turns of fate that are positively Dickensian, romance, family drama worthy of daytime television…not to mention an ending that I would probably accuse of being “too neat” in any other novel. But here…the emotions and characters just feel so heartbreakingly honest and real. Not to mention, any ending that harkens to one of my favorite This book is like the most filling and nutritional junk food meal I’ve ever eaten. It has so many of the hallmarks of fluffy escapist literature: breathless action, turns of fate that are positively Dickensian, romance, family drama worthy of daytime television…not to mention an ending that I would probably accuse of being “too neat” in any other novel. But here…the emotions and characters just feel so heartbreakingly honest and real. Not to mention, any ending that harkens to one of my favorite Anne of the Island scenes is just going to make me blind with the swooning. I’m not going to write any sort of synopsis for this book, and that’s just for your own good. It’s best to know very little going in. Instead, here are a few vague (as possible) reasons why I love this book so much. This book had my jaw dropping to the ground repeatedly. I was so completely wrapped up in the utterly engrossing feelings and thoughts of the characters that I never anticipated a few dramatic turns that I really should have seen coming. And the layer upon layer of mystery and intrigue, which could very easily have become confusing and illogical, actually builds to something that makes sense. The characters are nuanced and completely grey. They in turns make me want to comfort, protect, question, glare at, weep with, and stab them. Especially when they cheapen and stomp all over things which should be held sacred. You know what you did, character who I shall not name. Now come over here, because I think you need a hug. There are two narrators who do sound similar, but I think this is intentional. Their destinies are so woven together and their lives contain such horrible symmetry; it’s easy to see how their voices would echo. However, what’s most fascinating is how they differ: when repeating the same events, how the dialogue changes just subtly; how they remember things just a bit differently. So much is colored by their individual experience and these minor differences really illuminate their individual characters. But the places where they feel the same feelings and in the same moment are also so powerful. (view spoiler)[I still have an ache in my chest about the mirror scene. (hide spoiler)] The romance is at once fragile and formidable. I want to shield them from the world; to protect the little spark of goodness that they kindle in each other from all the avarice and perversion that surrounds them. Only, these two ain’t exactly pigeons…neither one of them. Amidst all the lies and greed and manipulation, they somehow find a road to their own best selves. A pretense of caring and love, an illusion, somehow brings forth what is true. And that’s when the romance feels formidable. If these two could ever set aside their histories, families, and misfortunes, and just be together then I felt sure they could do anything. They could take over the world. For all of my adult friends who love YA, but want something with a little more substance, this is for you. The main characters are seventeen, and feel authentically so. This is unequivocally one of my favorites that I’ve read this year. I can’t believe it took me this long to get to it! Perfect Musical Pairing The Civil Wars – Poison & Wine This is a love song, but it isn’t. It’s about a love that’s denied and uncertain. And it also has two narrators, speaking back and forth. I just listened to it about ten times in a row and it feels so perfect! “You only know what I want you to… I know everything that you don’t want me to. I wish you’d hold me when you turn your back. The less I give, the more I get back. Oh, your hands can heal, your hands can bruise. I don’t have a choice, but I’d still choose you.”

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jo (An Unexpected Book Hoarder)

    I do love a bit of Sarah Waters, and I'm pretty sad that this book has ended. Despite the fact that this book consists of over 500 pages, I can say, that it certainly doesn't feel like a slog when reading it. For me, reading Fingersmith, was like unwrapping a gift, but you have absolutely no idea what is actually inside. I had guessed what the novel was based on, hence the title, but it was so much more than that. I just love the fact the book is set in Victorian England. Novels set in this era r I do love a bit of Sarah Waters, and I'm pretty sad that this book has ended. Despite the fact that this book consists of over 500 pages, I can say, that it certainly doesn't feel like a slog when reading it. For me, reading Fingersmith, was like unwrapping a gift, but you have absolutely no idea what is actually inside. I had guessed what the novel was based on, hence the title, but it was so much more than that. I just love the fact the book is set in Victorian England. Novels set in this era rather appeal to me, like no other, and the author does an incredible job of creating that era and atmosphere for her reader. There is a lot of it revolved around thieving and a good helping of deception is thrown in there too. It all made for an excellent read. Waters has a unique style of writing, which isn't for everybody, but it is for me. I love the erotica scenes that she includes in her writing. I must say, the other novel that I've read by Waters, is "Tipping the velvet", and the erotic scenes in there are hot, and beautifully explicit. There wasn't enough of those in this novel for my liking, and it was all fairly innocent in comparison, but that is a personal preference. What stood out in this novel for me, were the jaw dropping plot twists. I mean, some of them completely came out of nowhere, and I was literally speed reading to find out what happened next. This was a delicious novel, that I could have easily read more of, if I hadn't already devoured it, of course.

  24. 4 out of 5

    ❄️Nani❄️

    Still underwhelmed.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    I am always a little scared of books that have been nominated for The Booker Prize or the Orange Prize because I always feel that they are books that I “should” read and enjoy but worry that they are going to be too “intellectual” for me and way over my head, so it was with some trepidation that I picked up this book and yet, when it comes down to brass tacks, I absolutely loved this read and feel quite bereft now that I have got to the end of it. Set in mid 19th century London and its surroundi I am always a little scared of books that have been nominated for The Booker Prize or the Orange Prize because I always feel that they are books that I “should” read and enjoy but worry that they are going to be too “intellectual” for me and way over my head, so it was with some trepidation that I picked up this book and yet, when it comes down to brass tacks, I absolutely loved this read and feel quite bereft now that I have got to the end of it. Set in mid 19th century London and its surrounding areas, the writing is exquisite in the way it brings the setting and the times to life. There is a very Dickensian feel to it with the colourful characters who are just as colourfully named, and the way that the underbelly of society is depicted with the thievery that lies at the heart of Susan’s family, as well as the baby farming, the asylums and the fates of the inmates there at the hands of the staff, not to mention the decadence that is revealed later on in the book. In fact, you could almost call it “Decadent Dickensian”. There were times when I could really forget that I was reading a book written in the 21st century as it felt so authentic. I don’t want to talk about the plot too much except to say that at the centre of it lies “a dastardly plan to relieve a young lady of her fortune”. It is told from the perspectives of two people and each telling reveals a very different side to the story. This story of treachery, betrayal, lies and hidden secrets twists and turns and twists and turns with new shocks and surprises being revealed to the reader all the way through. This is a story in which nothing is as it originally seems to be with a very complex, intricately woven plot which really kept my interest right to the end and I can’t wait to read more of this author’s work now.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Margitte

    The novel is a three part tale, written as a postmodern feminist rendition of a Victorian melodrama in its Gothic, Dickensian(Oliver Twist) splendor, with ample touches of the decadent extravagance of the Greek gods Priapus and Venus, as well as the somewhat toned-down values of Brontë and Poe. Greed, treachery, love, and moral ambiguities splashes the otherwise all too familiar theme of Gothic terror, intrigue and madness with some unique plot points and introduces an alternative version of lov The novel is a three part tale, written as a postmodern feminist rendition of a Victorian melodrama in its Gothic, Dickensian(Oliver Twist) splendor, with ample touches of the decadent extravagance of the Greek gods Priapus and Venus, as well as the somewhat toned-down values of Brontë and Poe. Greed, treachery, love, and moral ambiguities splashes the otherwise all too familiar theme of Gothic terror, intrigue and madness with some unique plot points and introduces an alternative version of love to this historical fictional saga. The erotic love scenes, which add the modern touch to the tale, is like lacing up a polka dot bikini underneath a period costume. And all male characters are villains (the book is written to promote the feminist narrative after all). The novel starts out with Dickens and Mayhew in the Boroughs household, then continues in the Gothic style of Brontë and Poe in the grand old house, called Blair of Mr. Christopher Lily. This combination results in an interesting captivating read. The perfectly chosen title is applicable to every single intricate web in the book. A brilliant decision. Fingersmith, a slang term for a thief, is also fingering the underbelly of the Victorian era, confirming that not only worldly goods can be bartered or sold. There's the thievery of human rights, women's souls, and love...fingers covered in ink, fingers in muffins and gloves, fingers to determine the outcome of three women's lives. Fingersmithery characterizes the complexity of drama from beginning to end. I was overwhelmed by the masterful text, and underwhelmed by the dragging, in the end dreary, story line. It could have been a 150 pages shorter, and that's where it loses a star. But as an atmospheric, picturesque tale, it is worth the read. Unnerving, colorful characters adorned the story line, such as the alternative household of Mrs.Sucksby (what a name for a baby farmer) who calls on Dainty to pass her an infant, she wanted something to squeeze. All babies in her care were pacified with gin. Her matriarchal domain is her home on Lantstreet in the shanty impoverished town at the wrong end of Southwark Bridge in the Borough, near the Thames in London. A rough, crooked yet comradely household. Dainty Warden, once again a very descriptive name, also one of Mrs. Sucksby's protegees, is sewing a greatcoat together from forty different dog furs for John Vroom. The main male character is 'Gentleman', or Richard Rivers, sometimes also called Richard Wells, a beloved conman in the household. Mr. Ibbs is allowed ( by Mrs. Sucksby) to run his locksmith's shop in the front rooms of the building. He was allowed to trade stolen goods, managed a sort of micro foundry in Mrs. Sucksby's kitchen where silver and gold got melted and sold to passing boats and ships. He made the money, but she made the decisions. The main protagonists is Susan Tinder, as she was known all these years, who was raised by Mr. Ibbs and Mrs. Sucksby. In an ambitious scheme, Susan is sent off to the household of Mr. Christopher Lily to become the maid of his niece Maud. They lived west of London, out Maidenhead-way, near a village named Marlow. Their home was called Blair. Gentleman concocted the scheme in which Maud would be lured into a romance and marriage, then sent off to an asylum, while Gentleman would then take possession of her impressive inheritance and share it with Susan and the Borough household. It promised to make all their dreams come true. Well, yes, that was the plan. Nevertheless, their greed and harsh environment propelled them forward. And of course, they came out totally different people on the other side of their abysmal, long, dark, twisted labyrinth. I don't want to elaborate more and blow the plot. It was a fascinating read! Here's a little soapbox moment in this (view spoiler)[. I get a bit itchy all over when postmodern authors 'borrow' old classics to either rewrite it, or produce a modern interpretation of these masterpieces. Very often modern authors grab elements to build new stories. This is somewhat true in this case(Mrs. Suckeby's home is the matriarchal variant of Fagin's den where young boys, such as Oliver Twist is brought to be trained as thieves and robbers). However, Fingersmith cannot be compared to Nutshell by Ian McEwan who introduces Shakespeare's Hamlet as Fetus Cairncross in his postmodern interpretation of this play. Hamlet in Utero. Neither can Fingersmith be leveled with Eligible (The Austen Project, #4) by Curtis Sittenfeld - which turned Jane Austen's work into sleazy, tacky, chick lit. (hide spoiler)] Despite my short-lived gripes in the spoiler, it was a truly enjoyable, good read for sure.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ellen Gail

    'Be careful I don't grow tired of this scheme. I shan't be kind to you, then.' 'And is this kindness?' I say. We have moved, at last, into shadow, and I see his look: it is honest, amused, amazed. He says: 'This is dreadful villainy...When did I ever call it anything else?' Five stars! All those plot twists had me like: An excellent choice of a buddy-read with Chloe, who loved it as much as me! Dreamy and surprising, lush and tense, Fingersmith is everything a historical mystery should be. I went i 'Be careful I don't grow tired of this scheme. I shan't be kind to you, then.' 'And is this kindness?' I say. We have moved, at last, into shadow, and I see his look: it is honest, amused, amazed. He says: 'This is dreadful villainy...When did I ever call it anything else?' Five stars! All those plot twists had me like: An excellent choice of a buddy-read with Chloe, who loved it as much as me! Dreamy and surprising, lush and tense, Fingersmith is everything a historical mystery should be. I went into this completely blind; I didn't know it was about thieves, what time period it was set in, nada. I'm not entirely sure where I got my paperback from to be honest? That's how long it's been on my shelf. I didn't even know there was a lesbian romance! And let me tell you, having been disappointed by reading gay undertones into other books / shows and it never coming to fruition, I was SO happy with Sue and Maud. It went from "maybe I'm reading too much into it" to "oh, I'm WAY into reading this." This wasn't just steamy subtext. Oh no. *waggles eyebrows* Their relationship is just...idk how to even describe it without just puking up heart eye emojis everywhere like a highschooler. I fucking love them both, seperate and together. (view spoiler)[Gentleman can go fuck himself though. I can't even tell you how happy him being gutted makes me. (hide spoiler)] I said, 'Will you pretend, that you aren't a swindling cheat?' She said, 'Will you?' The plot. The plot! If you get to the end of part one and don't have some kind of reaction, (mine was a literal out loud "What the fuck?"), then you are an inhuman robot or you already knew a hell of a spoiler. (view spoiler)[ Pigeon, my arse. That bitch knew everything. (hide spoiler)] The plot was extremely twisty for the entire length of the book. But good twisty. It never felt forced, or having things happen just for the sake of it. Yeah it got dramatic and crazy, but it earned it. It earned every jaw drop and gasp through chapters of delicate writing and character development. 'And oh, dear girl, don't you think you was your mother's daughter, then?' I couldn't be more pleased with my first Sarah Waters read! If there's a queen of lesbian historical mystery, well, she is it. I've got The Little Stranger on hand already. Because if you give me an Amazon gift card, by the time I say thank you it's already spent, on books obviously. Books that I have no space for. Y'all, this book just makes me so happy. It did when I read it, and it does now thinking about it. I still don't know quite how a copy got on my shelf, but it's a keeper for sure.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    ETA: No, this damn book IS worth four stars. I woke up early this morning worrying about my rating! Here is why I must give it four stars: I came to care deeply for three people: Susan, Maud and Mrs. Sucksby. Wait till you find out who exactly the last one is! They moved from being cardboard evil characters to people I felt compassion for. Yes all three of them. And look at all the other good things I have listed below! *************************** By the book's end I was extremely impressed! By w ETA: No, this damn book IS worth four stars. I woke up early this morning worrying about my rating! Here is why I must give it four stars: I came to care deeply for three people: Susan, Maud and Mrs. Sucksby. Wait till you find out who exactly the last one is! They moved from being cardboard evil characters to people I felt compassion for. Yes all three of them. And look at all the other good things I have listed below! *************************** By the book's end I was extremely impressed! By what exactly? *By the ability with which Sarah Waters depicted Victorian London, London in 1862 to be exact. *By the flair with which a lesbian relationship is drawn, even to me who am heterosexual. *By her ability to create from nothing a totally new story that kept me listening. The story is completely credible and yet full of twists and turns. *Waters creates characters that are believable. Originally I was annoyed by the fact that all seemed evil, devious and scheming. I didn't know them well enough when I made that false judgment. *The dialogs and the different dialects reflecting the character's social standing were pitch-perfect. *No, I didn't laugh often, but occasionally I would smile. *The writing is VERY atmospheric; the story reads as a Gothic mystery, and even if this is not a genre that I habitually read I was impressed. Much is CREEPY. Maybe in fact it was so creepy that it made me squeamish and that is why I was so disturbed, because honestly I almost gave up on this book half way through. IF you ARE looking for a Gothic mystery - grab this. I have one serious complaint - the book is too long; it should have been tightened. The first section is told and then we are told it again from another point of view. I was totally exasperated by this. This was too repetitive. I was scared to death that the story would be told AGAIN from a third point of view. No, that didn't happen. So why should one read this book? Because you are given a very good story. Does it leave a message? Yeah, it does. It is all about family, loosely defined. It is about the feelings that bind the members of a family, regardless of the hurt we cause each other. Let me repeat again - the lesbian theme was VERY well done. Readers hesitant on that score will be pleasantly surprised! I was. As stated, I had a very hard time during the first half of the book - so stick with it. I may not have continued if the audiobook had not had such a wonderful narration. Juanita McMahon did a fabulous job. I ALWAYS could here exactly who was speaking. I am not going to give any spoilers, but this is an essential part of the story! I loved the dialect used for Susan and the contrasting tone for Maud. At Audible I will rank the narration with five stars. Need I say more about the narration? I want to leave what I wrote half way through the book. It is important you know that too....... I do think I have given you enough of an indication of what this book offers so you can judge if it will fit what you are looking for. **************************************** After a little more than half: A friend asked me if I found the writing in Sarah Waters' Fingersmith verbose. I explained that the fist part wasn't. BUT, but, but, now, in the second part, we are being told the same story all over again, albeit from another person's point of view! Repetition has to be a kind of wordiness, right? The second first person narrative are the words of a woman higher up on the Victorian ladder, and her language is perhaps not verbose, but more polished. Susan's telling is simple, frank and to the point. Maud's is woven into a more educated language that drones on and on. Who is the most wicked?! This is clearly a mystery. I would call it a Gothic mystery to-boot! Creepy stuff, but honestly I am bored the second time around! I am not a mystery fan! I just don't really care, since this is just a make-believe story. Is the writing Dickensenian? According to Wiki this word is defined as: 1.Of or pertaining to Charles Dickens or, especially, his writings. 2. Reminiscent of the environments and situations most commonly portrayed in Dickens' writings, such as poverty and social injustice and other aspects of Victorian England. Yes, the book does depict poverty, social injustice and English Victorian society. But there is more to Dickens' writing than just this! We all have our own feelings toward his writing. Right now I am thinking that even if the Sarah Waters does have a talent in depicting a time and place well, and even if she threw in a twist I never expected, and even if she let me emotionally understand a lesbian relationship............I am bored. Now again, I have guessed how the story will conclude. Will she throw in another twist?

  29. 4 out of 5

    Beatriz

    Reto #41 PopSugar 2017: Un libro recomendado por un autor que te guste El libro está dividido en tres partes y escrito en primera persona en forma alternada por las dos voces femeninas principales: Sue y Maud. Ellas son las dos jóvenes alrededor de las que se teje la trama, aunque al principio esto no sea tan evidente y uno pudiera pensar que el quid del asunto es el engaño que quiere perpetrar Richard Rivers, ayudándose de Sue, para quedarse con la fortuna de Maud. Nada más lejos de la realidad Reto #41 PopSugar 2017: Un libro recomendado por un autor que te guste El libro está dividido en tres partes y escrito en primera persona en forma alternada por las dos voces femeninas principales: Sue y Maud. Ellas son las dos jóvenes alrededor de las que se teje la trama, aunque al principio esto no sea tan evidente y uno pudiera pensar que el quid del asunto es el engaño que quiere perpetrar Richard Rivers, ayudándose de Sue, para quedarse con la fortuna de Maud. Nada más lejos de la realidad, ya que la novela basa su argumento en dos giros realmente inesperados en la trama (por eso la división en tres partes), que nunca vi venir y eso ya es un tremendo logro. Sin embargo, para que todo tenga sentido, la autora tiene que escribir toda la primera parte nuevamente desde otra perspectiva (lo que ocupa más de la mitad de la segunda parte) y, con el nivel de descripción que tiene el libro, la lectura se hace un poco cuesta arriba. Lo que sí me gustó mucho es cómo la autora logra crear las atmósferas de sus decadentes escenarios principales; para nada me costó imaginar la lóbrega y monótona casa de Briar, o la sórdida casa de Land Street, y qué decir del manicomio: realmente para estremecerse. Sin embargo, creo que se quedó muy corta en la sensualidad que promete la sinopsis, tanto en la relación de Sue y Maud, como en la educación que ésta última ha recibido para ser la lectora de la secreta biblioteca de pornografía de su tío. Por último, no puedo dejar de referirme a los personajes. Todos magníficamente caracterizados, pero representando lo más bajo de la condición humana. No se salva absolutamente ninguno… incluso, algunos eran realmente repugnantes. Lo recomiendo sobre todo para quienes gusten de este estilo tipo Dickens y para conocer a Sarah Waters, una galardonada novelista histórica, que se especializa en el período victoriano.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Clay

    While not as sexy as Tipping the Velvet, this book is a gripping read. I envy any reader their first trip through the story, because you will never guess what's going on or what's going to happen next. Perfectly plotted, brilliantly realized. Unfortunately, Sarah Waters' most recent book is rather a snore, and in her next book she's promised to abandon writing about lesbian characters all together ('cause the world of heterosexuality isn't yet well-documented. Sorry to be so bitter, but it makes While not as sexy as Tipping the Velvet, this book is a gripping read. I envy any reader their first trip through the story, because you will never guess what's going on or what's going to happen next. Perfectly plotted, brilliantly realized. Unfortunately, Sarah Waters' most recent book is rather a snore, and in her next book she's promised to abandon writing about lesbian characters all together ('cause the world of heterosexuality isn't yet well-documented. Sorry to be so bitter, but it makes me mad that as soon as we get someone decent she can't wait to rush away.) Anyway, this one's very exciting, so check it out!

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