Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Book Review: Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters

Fingersmith wins the prize for the book with the most surprising twists that I've ever read. And I read a lot. I've simply never been so shocked at the turn of events in a story. Usually you have some ideas about where the plot is going. You have at least some options in your head as your reading. This book totally surprised me -- I love it!

Susan Trindle is a 17-year-old orphan who has been raised by Mrs. Sucksby, who basically raises orphan babies for money, and teaches kids how to steal. It's 1862 in London, and this book is full of old Victorian themes -- the take a "draught" to get to sleep. There are mad houses where people are subjected to all sorts of weird treatments.

Susan is recruited by Richard Rivers (aka "Gentleman") to become the lady's maid to Maud Lilly. The idea is that Richard will marry her and steal her fortune. Maud is also an orphan, living with a very peculiar uncle way out in the countryside. That's really about all I'm going to say about the plot. Let's just say the swindlers get swindled, and like I said, you won't see half of what's coming in this book

Waters' characters jump off the pages and into your heart. Every single person in the book is distinct -- even the dog. The settings are vividly described -- the Sucksby house in London, Maud's Briar House and it's grounds. I feel like I've visited there. The book has been described as "lesbian fiction" by some, and that is an aspect of the story. I don't think I would describe the book that way, though. There is so much more than that.

I listened to this audiobook, and it's up there with the best ever. Juanita McMahon, the narrator, is simply perfect, giving distinct voices to each character yet not "over the top" (my audio book pet peeve.)

I guess my only complaint is that it's a bit long, at 582 pages, and 20 CDs for the audio. This was pretty inconsequential, given Waters' lyrical descriptions and compelling plot, and McMahon's voice. I could have listened forever, except for the fact that I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next (for I learned to quit even trying to guess.) I would recommend this to adults and older teens. I think the younger crowd would have to be of the more literary type. This isn't a light, quick read.

Oh, and I just figured out that there's a two-part mini series available. I want to see it so badly, but I don't want it to ruin the book. Has anyone seen it?

Published by Riverhead, 2002
Audio book obtained from the library
582  pages (qualifies for my 350 Page Book Challenge!)

Rating: 5/5

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