Thursday, 24 June 2010
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
After being suitably impressed with Sarah Waters writing in The Little Stranger and after reading a lot of cries of ‘read Fingersmith, read Fingersmith’ in the comments section on that post I was looking forward to sitting down with this Victorian yarn.
Sue is an orphan; her mother was hanged for murder, so Sue has been brought up by Mrs Sucksby and her little gang of thieves in the underbelly of London when a seemingly good opportunity arrives. If she helps her friend ‘Gentleman’ woo a rich girl named Maud into marrying him she will earn herself £3,000 of this girls fortune when Gentleman completes his plan to commit his new wife to an asylum. Well aside from the moral implication of committing a perfectly sane girl to an asylum for the rest of her days this is a good opportunity for Sue, so she agrees to work as Maud’s personal maid in the country all the while pushing her towards Gentleman.
This is a very plot driven book with lots of cliff-hangers, parts are sometimes told by different points of view and nothing is quite what it seems.
Most of the book is narrated by Sue and I enjoyed reading her voice the most. She had quite a straight-forward and sarcastic voice which sometimes made me chuckle and I enjoyed her observations about her new role and the servants who work there.
“It was all the most trifling sort of nonsense, and enough to make a cat laugh; but it was life and death to them – I suppose, it would be life and death to you, if all you had to look forward to for the next forty years was carrying trays and baking pastry. Anyway, I saw that, if I was to get anywhere with them, I must watch my steps”
Unfortunately I did not enjoy Maud’s narration as much as it didn’t have as much spark as Sues, although given her circumstances this is more realistic.
While I preferred the character development and overall message in The Little Stranger there is something to be said for a good plot which manages to keep you engrossed and on your toes. Sarah Waters has also impressed me once again with her writing and the images she creates, she manages to twist the genre by having Maud not fall in love with her hansom suitor but with her maid, further complicating the plan. Waters manages to capture whatever atmosphere she is writing about whether it is the back streets of London or the inside of an asylum and while some of the twists were a little unbelievable, as a reader I was still swept along with it.
A gripping and tantalising read, you could do a lot worse than pick this one up.
Posted by Jess