Fingersmith-Sarah Waters   Leave a comment

This is a book from the ‘1001 books to read before you die’ list which I am attempting to complete. This is the second book I have read by Sarah Waters, I read Tipping the Velvet not long ago and was surprised to have enjoyed it, although I had deep reservations.

Sarah Waters is best known for her novels set in Victorian England, featuring lesbian protagonists. This book was published in 2002 and is a crime novel; the term, Fingersmith, referring to a pickpocket.

Sue Trinder is an orphan, brought up in a Fagin type house full of thieves and other criminals by her adoptive mother, Mrs Sucksby. When ‘gentleman’ arrives with a plan to trick a young heiress out of her inheritance; Sue is encouraged to play the part of a ladies’ maid. She is to encourage the young lady, Maud, to elope with gentleman. Once they are married, she will be left in a madhouse and the inheritance shared amongst the thieves.

All goes well until the point when Maud is to be left at the madhouse. At this point, it is Sue they take from the carriage, the orderlies and doctors thinking her to be Maud. Sue has been tricked.

From this point on, Sue must escape from the madhouse, and Maud must escape Mrs Sucksby and ‘gentlemans’ clutches. Can they possibly work together?

I thought the plot twist, when it was Sue taken into the madhouse, was amazing. At that point I had no idea where the story would go, and won’t share here, as it would give too much away. But convoluted is not the word!

I was absolutely hooked with this book. Personally I don’t enjoy homo-erotic fiction, (which this is not) and am completely straight in my own sexuality. However, with Sarah Waters, they are merely protagonists who just happen to be gay. The sexuality does not drive the plot or feature largely in it. There is a love interest, but it is tasteful and fits the storyline well.
This is a great book for anyone who enjoys a historical crime novel with lots of twists


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