Fingersmith - Sarah Waters

Fingersmith' is an engaging and ultimately very satisfying read

Book Review by Morag Hannah | 15 Jul 2006
It's appropriate that the opening pages of 'Fingersmith' reference a
theatrical adaptation of 'Oliver Twist' - in her third novel, Sarah Waters displays a distinct taste for Dickensian melodrama. With a cast of colourful, imaginatively-named caricatures, and a twisting, convoluted plot, the tale could almost have come from the pen of Chuck himself - albeit with more commas and less lesbianism.

Sue Trinder is a pickpocket and orphan, raised by the inimitable Mrs Sucksby in a thieves' den in mid 19th-century London. Requisitioned by 'Gentleman' - an associate of her guardians - to aid in a money-making scheme, Sue relocates to a country estate to act as a maid to Miss Maud Lilly. The plan is to con Maud into an elopement, then commit her to an insane asylum, thereby stealing her fortune. Naturally, nothing is as it seems - not to mention the complications caused by Sue's growing attachment to her apparently naive and eccentric mistress.

'Fingersmith', typically for Waters, starts slowly and picks up pace as it
goes. More successful in navigating its many twists and turns than 'Affinity' before it, and with a warmer mood, 'Fingersmith' is an engaging and ultimately very satisfying read, showcasing Waters' increasing flair for tightly-written period fiction. [Morag Hannah]
out now.