No one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and reversals. Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a “baby farmer.” Mrs. Sucksby’s household 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, they all will share in Maud’s vast inheritance.
With dreams of paying back the kindness of her adopted family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, Sue begins to regret her decision.
Find the book here on Goodreads.
Oh, man. All I knew about this book going in was that it was about a girl who becomes a lady’s maid and, I suppose, when it comes right down to it, that is exactly what this book is about. I also knew that there are a whole bunch of people out there who bloody love this book, and, after a so far rather lacklustre reading year, I hoped to join them. Spoilers, but I bloody loved this book.
The first thing I really liked was that all of the chapters were more or less of a length. And even though my Kindle was telling me it would take me about 20 minutes to read each one, I sped through. There is something about the way in which Waters writes that makes me almost skip over the words and I can see the events described on the page almost as though I’m watching it on film. And that, my friends, is one of my very favourite feelings when it comes to reading.
Then there are the characters who, though none especially likeable, were each as interesting as the next. Even the side characters, I could see them all so clearly. It also helped that Waters managed to give Sue and Maud such distinct voices. Finally, there is the story itself. The whole section at Briar House read, to me, almost like in Rebecca when the main character first moves to Mandalay. Very Gothic, and mildly unsettling. I love what Waters does with reader expectations, and with the expectations of the characters, and turns everything on it’s head. I do love it when I don’t see the story coming, and I’ll freely admit that I had no idea what was going to happen in Fingersmith.