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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Fingersmith.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Sarah Waters(Author)

    Book details

“Oliver Twist with a twist…Waters spins an absorbing tale that withholds as much as it discloses. A pulsating story.”—The New York Times Book Review  

The Handmaiden, a film adaptation of Fingersmith, directed by Park Chan-wook and starring Kim Tae-Ri, is now available.

Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a "baby farmer," who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby’s household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, also hosts a transient family of petty thieves—fingersmiths—for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home.

One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives—Gentleman, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a naïve gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, then they will all share in Maud’s vast inheritance. Once the inheritance is secured, Maud will be disposed of—passed off as mad, and made to live out the rest of her days in a lunatic asylum.

With dreams of paying back the kindness of her adopted family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, Sue begins to pity her helpless mark and care for Maud Lilly in unexpected ways...But no one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and reversals.

Fingersmith is the third slice of engrossing lesbian Victoriana from Sarah Waters. Although lighter and more melodramatic in tone than its predecessor, Affinity, this hypnotic suspense novel is awash with all manner of gloomy Dickensian leitmotifs: pickpockets, orphans, grim prisons, lunatic asylums, "laughing villains," and, of course, "stolen fortunes and girls made out to be mad." Divided into three parts, the tale is narrated by two orphaned girls whose lives are inextricably linked. Waters's penchant for byzantine plotting can get a bit exhausting, but even at its densest moments--and remember, this is smoggy London circa 1862--it remains mesmerizing. A damning critique of Victorian moral and sexual hypocrisy, a gripping melodrama, and a love story to boot, this book ingeniously reworks some truly classic themes. --Travis Elborough, In Victorian London, the orphaned Sue Trinder is raised by Mrs. Sucksby, den mother to a family of thieves, or "fingersmiths." To repay Mrs. Sucksby's kindness, Sue gets involved in a scam but soon regrets it. From the award-winning author of Tipping the Velvet. Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

2.2 (12014)
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Book details

  • PDF | 560 pages
  • Sarah Waters(Author)
  • Virago Press Ltd; New Ed edition (2003)
  • English
  • 5
  • Literature & Fiction

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Review Text

  • By Daniel Myers on September 5, 2008

    I don't like writing negative reviews. Really, I don't. ----Except, that is, for books such as this one which fully deserve it. Fingersmith is, to be brief, a sump of slipshod writing, contrived plotting, bogus atmospherics and two dimensional characters. If we are at the point where this can be considered as anything approaching Dickens or The Brontes, as so many of the professional reviewers do on the back cover and the opening pages, then we have reached a low point indeed in literary valuation. ----As a test, pick any page from Charlotte Bronte's masterwork, Villette, concerning its heroine Lucy Snow, and compare it to any of the pages here concerning Maud or Sue, and you shall behold the clear difference. You may still prefer Maud and Sue and Fingersmith, but that is rather a judgment on you than on Bronte. My guess, though, is that most reviewers here haven't even read Bronte unless they were forced to do so by an English teacher.Outraged readers will no doubt want to know what I mean by slipshod writing since they, to my disbelief, refer to it as "wonderful," "beautiful," "skillful" and other such superlatives. Let's take Sue's character, shall we? The girl was brought up in an environment wherein she didn't even learn to write her own name, and yet, she mouths utterances such as, "I was, not to put too fine a point on it, properly funked." P.423 This is, not to put too fine a point on it, the voice of an educated person like Sarah Waters with a slangy flair to it, not Sue, or Susan, or whatever name you want to call her by the end. Sue also mentions Helen of Troy as if she has read The Iliad and many other incongruous things besides that beggar belief.My real problem with the book though is that it is so unchallenging as well as unentertaining. To plough through this book is to be exposed, time and again, to man's inhumanity to man, man's inhumanity to woman, woman's inhumanity to woman - especially in the madhouse, and so on. My only feeling after finishing it was a relief at not having to read any more about comic book characters about whom I couldn't care two shillings put through a Victorian meat grinder, which is no less brutal than the Twenty-First Century version of it.My final exhortation to the prospective reader: Read the Brontes, read Dickens (particularly Bleak House), read George Eliot, read Thomas Hardy (esp. Jude the Obscure), read, in short, the real thing rather than this, sadly, uninspired and uninspiring literary throwback that, as Sarah Waters has said, arose out of her doctoral studies on Victorian pornography.

  • By Rachel on June 27, 2009

    I love, love, love this book. I first read it soon after it came out, and revisited it recently. Waters has a gift for lyrical prose and constructing an intricate narrative of layers upon layers; each incident or character, no matter how minor at the time, assumes crucial significance later, hardly any word or phrase is superfluous, and what is not said is often more important than what is. A number of the darker aspects of the novel are merely hinted at, not spelt out. The language of the dialogue and narrative evokes the period beautifully.I won't attempt to summarise the plot; a number of reviewers have already done so. Suffice it to say that anyone looking for a Victorian-era "romp" or "cozy" may find that this book is not for them. This is a much bleaker and more confusing world, where as soon as you think you've figured out what is going on, everything is turned on its head, and nothing - and no-one - is straightforward. The characters are well developed, distinct individuals, who at times are not particularly likeable or sympathetic, but are fundamentally human. Even Waters' most appalling characters have some redeeming qualities, and are capable of making you feel something for them; nothing is black and white. I thought the love story between Maud and Susan was really nicely done; the "romance" element is not the most important part of the story."Fingersmith" is a long and at times challenging read - sometimes it moves quite slowly, and it's not going to appeal to everyone - but very much a worthwhile one. Highly recommended.

  • By MO on September 9, 2012

    Wish I could have used a 0 rating! Nothing I read in the blurb or in the sample from Amazon led me to realize this is a lesbian romance. Definitely NOT what I am interested in reading. I deleted it from my Kindle immediately--and I haven't even paid for it yet. I'm angry and "ripped off."

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