Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Time for another buddy review! I am thinking of making these more of a regular feature in 2010. Do you like them? I like them because they are interactive. If anyone wants to do a buddy review with me in 2010, just let me know. If I still owe you a buddy review in 2009 it is nothing against you, it is my reading is suffering the last couple months of this year. I am hoping that January will see a rebirth and less stress, so cross your fingers for me!

This is a buddy review with Aarti from BookLust. We have been supposed to review together forever, but things always seemed to happen. I am glad we have finally had the chance to! We have more planned for 2010. (And I am sure I will review with Ana, Chris, and Heather. They were my most common buddy review co-hosts of 2009).

'We were all more or less thieves at Lant Street. But we were that kind of thief that rather eased the dodgy deed along, than did it . We could pass anything, anything at all, at speeds which would astonish you. There was only one thing, in fact, that had come and got stuck - one thing that had somehow withstood the tremendous pull of that passage - one thing that never had a price put to it. I mean of course, Me.' Sue Trinder, orphaned at birth, is born among petty thieves - fingersmiths - in London's Borough. From the moment she draws breath, her fate is linked to another orphan, growing up in a gloomy mansion not too many miles away ...A modern day Dickens, Sarah Waters is one of Britain's rising stars.
Aarti is in green and I am in white. This is the first part of the review, to read the continuation you have to go to her blog.

This was only the second Waters book I read, and I really enjoyed it! It is my first book for the Women Unbound Challenge and I think it's a great start for that one as you can really see how bound the two main characters- both young ladies- are by society and its strictures and laws. They really are at the mercy of men and of people more wealthy and powerful than they are. I always think I would love to travel to the past, particularly England. But always with the caveat of being a self-supporting, wealthy gentlewoman! Otherwise, I don't think it would be a very good life! And Waters really made it clear that even when a woman does have money, she loses all control of it when she marries. She also showed just how isolating life could be for girls. I think she did an excellent job.

That said, for some reason, I think I liked Affinity better than Fingersmith! I'm not sure if that is just a product of me having read Affinity first, but I thought the two main characters in that one were somehow more compelling to me. But the same themes resonate- that of lonely, isolated women seeking comfort in each other.

I haven't read Affinity yet, so I can't really say anything about which is the better of the two. The other book I have read by her is The Night Watch. I bought it randomly when it first came out; even though I didn't really know anything about Waters or her books. I found my first read by her a bit different. It was set during WWII, and instead of being told in order the book started at the end and moved to the beginning. Fingersmith is told like a 'regular' story, so it is almost hard to compare the two of them. All I know is that when I was reading Fingersmith I kept wondering why it was that I let about 2 years go by before reading another Waters. There are so many twists and turns in her novels. Sometimes I would expect what was about to happen, but other times I was surprised. This is very much an edge-of-your-seat read. You never know what is going to happen with every flip of the page.

I agree this is perfect for the Unbound Challenge. I haven't decided if I will count it or not because I originally planned to only read non-fiction for the challenge. This book could really said to be about the restrictions put on women and how different their lives were from men. How different their lives were depending on their class structure, even. I thought Waters did a really good job writing a story that addresses these issues. We have one woman that lives with her uncle in what looks like the upper class structure, but then we have another woman that is raised by thieves. It was an interesting look at Victorian Society. Which of the main characters was your favourite?

I was trying to think of my favorite and I'm not sure! I thought Gentleman was fascinating in many ways. He had a cruel streak, but he also seemed to have some redeeming traits. I am not sure if I knew him well enough to say whether I liked him as a person or not, but I really enjoyed him as a character. I liked both Susan and Maud. They were drawn very well and really came to life for me. I thought Waters did so well to show the hypocrisy of Victorian society, showing Maud as this upstanding and very shy Victorian girl, but then having her work with her uncle on really disturbing and dirty reading topics. And Susan, who was raised on the streets and should have been really hard, was actually pretty idealistic and sweet.

There were a few twists that I expected, but a lot caught me off guard. I think one has to get used to that with Waters!

I enjoyed the way Waters portrayed the lesbian relationship as well- natural and based in trust. What did you think of that aspect? I don't think I can call it the romantic aspect, really, as the two weren't "together" for a good portion of the book, but it was certainly the central relationship.

Head over to Aarti's blog to read the rest!

And, don't forget that the Virtual Advent is in full-swing! Today is day two. Head over to the dedicated blog to see who to visit and follow on with the rest of the tour!


  1. Hello! I've found my way here via Aarti's blog.

    I thought it was interesting that you preferred Affinity to this. Fingersmith is one of my favourite books, but I haven't read Affinity yet. I have watched the TV adaptations of them both though and thought that Fingersmith had a much more complex, satisfying plot.

    I'll read Affinity at some point (when I've forgotten about watching it a bit) and am very excited to find out what is so special about it.

  2. Like i said over at Aarti's blog - I can't read this yet. I must read Fingersmith first so I can join the super secret Fingersmith club. :D I hope to make it one of my first books of 2010.

  3. Anonymous11:03 AM

    I've never read any books by Sarah Waters, though I have heard of Fingersmith! This was a great review, I'm going to have to add Waters onto my to-buy list!

    Also, I've given you the Honest Scrap Award!

  4. So glad we finally did a review together! And I'm looking forward to all those we have coming up, too :-)

  5. I *just* finished reading this and am going to post my review today. Good points! Loved the book. I also liked Affinity but I definitely liked this one better...

  6. I love the buddy reviews. They are so fun read.

    I've heard of Fingersmith from a few friends, and I think I will have to check it out. Great review :)

  7. Great great buddy review....very fun to read both sides at the same time!!

  8. I've read so much about this book. I enjoyed your buddy review!

  9. I like the buddy review format. It's fun. Serena and I will be attempting something like it during the Vietnam Reading Challenge next year.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  10. So, I'm finally commenting here :P It's been starred since the day you posted it. I'm thrilled both you and Aarti liked it. We need to keep an eye on each other and make sure neither of us goes 2 years without a Sarah Waters book :P

  11. This is one I've been meaning to read forever - probably since I read Nymeth's review! I do need to get to it soon - maybe a goal for 2010!


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