Sarah Waters’ novel ‘The Fingersmith’

I just finished re-reading Sarah Waters book ‘The Fingersmith’.  It’s one of those books that makes me wish I could write something quite so wonderful.  Set in England in the mid 1800’s the book is in many ways a tribute to Charles Dickens.  If the great English author were writing today, I suspect his prose might look a lot like that found in this novel. 

Indeed, Waters makes reference to Dicken’s great classic, ‘Oliver Twist’. Traces of Fagin can be found in Mrs. Sucksby, Bill Sykes might lurk in the heart of the Gentleman and the two heroines, Sue and Maud in combination, play an Oliver type character.  Waters has a wonderful gift for bringing the era to life: its repressive mores, its crushing sexism and its ugly class divisions.  The plot centers around two young women, Sue and Maud, both unwitting victims of an elaborate plot.  The story is told through the eyes of both women as they slowly work their way through a myriad of manipulations and lies before the shocking truth is laid bare.  Murder, plot complications, surprising twists and vivid characters abound. 

 ‘The Fingersmith’, like her earlier ‘Tipping the Velvet’, were both made into successful motion pictures.  If you’ve never dipped into any of Waters’ books, it might be time.  You couldn’t do better than ‘The Fingersmith’.

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