Fingersmith – Book Review

fingersmith 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. – from Fingersmith, page 7 –

Sue Trinder has been raised among thieves – an orphan who has never met her mother. The woman who has cared for her is Mrs. Suksby who takes babies from their mothers for a fee. The house on Lant Street where they live teems with characters such as Dainty, a girl with her own questionable past and Mr. Ibbs who buys stolen goods. Then one dark, rainy night a man arrives with a proposition to make them all rich.

In the passage stood a man, dressed dark, wet through and dripping, and with a leather bag at his feet. The dim light showed his pale cheeks, his whiskers, but his eyes were quite hidden in the shadow of his hat. I should not have known him if he had not spoken. – from Fingersmith, page 19 –

The man – known as Gentleman – hatches a scheme to send Sue, disguised as a maid, to the home of Maud Lilly and befriend her. A large sum of money is at stake, and the plot to get it means tricking Maud into marrying Gentlemen and then confining her to a mental hospital. From this point forward, the novel moves steadily forward with unexpected twists and turns which kept me reading long into the night.

Sarah Waters has written a gothic novel filled with evil villains, betrayal, lies, love, debauchery and shocking revelations. Set first on the dirty backstreets of the London Borroughs, the novel then moves to the dark and eerie rooms of Briar – a dilapidated mansion where Maud is being raised by her cruel uncle. The writing is provocative and rich, creating the atmosphere of a period Gothic setting filled with suspense and things that creep in the night. The dialogue is pitch perfect, the characters convincingly wrought.  But it is the plot – unnerving and constantly shifting – which reels the reader into the story and keeps the pages turning.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel which uncovers the sinister underbelly of the human soul. Gentleman is the perfect villain – handsome, mysterious and evil. Just when the reader thinks she knows where the story is taking her, there is a twist and it goes in another direction. No one is as they seem.

Waters has written a book rich in period details and lush with complex characters. Ingeniously plotted and sexually charged, this is a novel you do not want to miss.

Highly recommended.


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    • Kathy on January 25, 2009 at 08:55

    That one sounds really good – I’m adding it to my wish list. I love the cover, too.

  1. I gave it five stars too! It is such a good book that it probably makes it into my all time top ten.
    I’m pleased that you liked it too!

    • Kailana on January 25, 2009 at 09:57

    I just pulled this book off my TBR pile to read in the not too distant future. I am glad that you enjoyed it so much!

  2. Yah! Wonderful review, Wendy.

    • Memory on January 25, 2009 at 11:39

    Oh, how I loved this book! A lot of people have reviewed it lately, and enthusiastic reviews like yours are really making me want to read it again.

  3. Wow, both your review and resulting comments make me want to read this a whole bunch like right now!

  4. I’m definitely adding this one to my TBR list. It sounds wonderful. Great review!

    • Teddy on January 25, 2009 at 14:10

    Wonderful review Wendy! This book has been on my TBR for a long time but I wasn’t sure about it. You review has convinced me.

    • Wendy on January 25, 2009 at 14:52

    Kathy: I love the cover too – it fits the story perfectly.

    Jackie: I need to pop over and read your review!

    Kailana: Oh, I’ll be interested to see what you think!

    Terri: Thanks 🙂

    Memory: I can see why it would be fun to reread this…I feel like there were probably clues I missed the first go ’round.

    Amy: Go for it! Can’t wait to see what you think.

    Samantha: Thanks! Hope you’ll enjoy!

    Teddy: Thank you…don’t wait too long to read it. It is a chunkster, but it goes fast.

    • carolyn on January 25, 2009 at 16:29

    You’ve really whetted my appetitite for this! (Not that I need more books on my TBR pile.) I’ll definitely check it out. Thanks.

  5. I’ve never heard of this novel, but it sounds interesting! Thanks for the review!

    • Lu on January 25, 2009 at 17:17

    I’m also a fan of Fingersmith. The twist at the end was amazing, definitely didn’t see it coming. Good review!

  6. I just finished reading Affinity this month and have checked this book out from the library to read soon. I’ve heard such good things about it!

    • Tara on January 26, 2009 at 17:15

    Lucky you, reading this for the first time! This is such a fantastic book, in my opinion and her very, very best.

    • Susanne on January 26, 2009 at 20:19

    Great review Wendy!

    I loved this book!…such fabulous plot twists and characters!

    Please leave a copy of your review at the Cafe…we read it a while back and I think that everyone there would relish your comments!

    Also, there was a movie made of it that I think you would really enjoy.


    • Wendy on January 27, 2009 at 11:08

    Carolyn: You’re welcome!

    S. Krishna: Knowing your tastes in books – you really should read this one!

    Lu: I loved all the twists!

    Michelle: You won’t be sorry!

    Tara: I have heard this is a favorite for readers who like Waters – I can certainly see why!

    Susanne: I didn’t realize there was a movie…good to hear it was a good rendering of the book.

    • Jenny on January 28, 2009 at 07:14

    I so enjoyed this book! I think I actually have the movie somewhere at my house – I feel like I got it shortly after reading the book – so I’ll have to hunt it down and watch it. I’m glad you liked it!

    • Wendy on January 29, 2009 at 09:25

    Jenny: A couple of people have told me I should watch the movie…I’ll have to do that one of these days!

    • Anna on January 30, 2009 at 06:47

    Great review! I haven’t heard of this one, but it sure sounds good.

    • Wendy on February 1, 2009 at 09:44

    Anna: If you love gothic style novels…this one is a must read!

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