17 February 2010

Book Review: Fingersmith

Title:  Fingersmith
Author: Sarah Waters
Published: 2002  Pages:  548
Genre:  Fiction

Buy  |  Borrow  |  Accept  |  Avoid

Plot Synopsis
As I am the last person on the face of the earth to read this book, I probably don't need to summarize the plot, but just in case there are others out there who are new to the Sarah Waters' game:

Fingersmith tells the story of Sue Trinder, a young woman orphaned at birth who grows up among the thieves and con artists of London. When a conman named Gentleman offers her a money-making opportunity, she grabs it.  Maud is the unfortunate patsy in Gentlemen and Sue's little con, but Maud has secrets of her own.  Sue and Maud's schemes and plans are no match for the path their lives were set upon before they took their first breath.

My Thoughts
Loved it.  Adored it.  Unfortunately, Fingersmith is the type of book that is difficult to fully discuss without giving away plot points which are better left discovered while reading.  The twists and turns, the interweaving stories and characters, must be experienced first hand.  So I apologize if my review seems underdeveloped or vague.

One thing I loved in this book was the fallibility and imperfections of the characters.  They are all corruptible in some way, even the main character.  These flaws made the action within the book more honest to me.  No one 'gives it all up' for love or suddenly acts contrary to their backstory and becomes some sweet, perfect little angel full of self-sacrifice.  Sue and Maud, especially, felt very authentic throughout the book, complex characters who stayed true to their original development even while they grew as people.

I also was highly infatuated with the love story. Never have I read such a beautiful and moving lesbian sex scene.  Sue's exclamations of 'you pearl' nearabout broke my heart, and the poignant way both Sue and Maud reminisced about that night continually brought me back to that scene.  Even while mentioning the sex scene, I feel disingenuous as the sexual relationship is a far second to the romance.

Finally, the ending.  It was not what I expected, and I found it rather satisfying which was a bit surprising as I suffered a bit of a slump during the latter portion of the book.  For a short time, I found myself worrying that everything was going to wrap up too neatly and a short time before that I thought things weren't going to wrap up at all.  But everything came together perfectly at the end, in my opinion.

Memorable Quote:  'Fancies, Mrs. Rivers. If you might only hear yourself! Terrible plots? Laughing villains? Stolen fortunes and girls made out to be mad? The stuff of lurid fiction! 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.'

'Inflamed?' I said. 'Over-indulge? Literature?'

'You have read too much.'

Other Reviews
If I've missed yours, let me know!

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Challenges: Women UnBound, 100+ Reading Challenge, GLBT Challenge, Reading Resolutions, Read the Book See the Movie,


  1. You're not the last person in the world - I still have yet to read it. I need to, and hope to soon. Like in the next two months.

  2. The love scene was indeed the best ever. I'm glad you liked it; I thought it was fantastic! Can't wait to read more of this author!

  3. I was not only infatuated with the love scene, but the book and with Waters in general. Just for fun, I also rented the BBC film, and really enjoyed it. You can imagine that it would be tricky to get it "right", with the twists and the different points of view, but I believe they accomplished their task. I still like the book best, but it is worth watching.

  4. This novel is on my TBR list. I loved your review ... loved it! I especially liked the way you described the character development. And I'm intrigued by the love scene. Offhand, I don't think I've ever read an intimate scene between lesbians, so I won't have much to compare it to. :-)

  5. You're not the last to read it ... I am. And the more I read about it, the more excited I am to get to it! I'm promising myself that I can treat myself to it in March once I finsih some "obligatory" reading.

  6. Amanda, Stephanie, and Jenners - You guys need to read this as soon as possible!

    Rhapsody - I've already bought another book by Waters: Affinity.

    Sandy - I'm planning on watching the film this weekend!

  7. I'm so glad you loved it! I found the ending very satisfying too - more so than the ending of any of the other Sarah Waters books I've read so far.

  8. Nymeth - Hmmm....now I'm both worried and curious to read her other books. :)

  9. You did a fabulous job with this review and especially liked your summary paragraph.


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