17 February 2010
Book Review: Fingersmith
Author: Sarah Waters
Published: 2002 Pages: 548
Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid
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.
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.'
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