The Fingersmith (Wales)

book cover The Fingersmithby Sarah Waters

What, you ask, is a fingersmith? The heroine in this novel is asking herself the same question. Who am I? What should I do with my life? Will I be hanged for a crime, like my mother? And the answers keep changing as her world gets dumped on its head.

I loved, loved, loved this book. It was like sipping a hot steaming Smoking Bishop while esconsed in a velvet Victorian armchair in my knitted slippers and my smoking jacket. It was fabulous!

Ye Old Curiosity Plot

The story opens in a den of thieves where Susan Trinder’s one constant is the love of Mrs. Sucksby, the orphan farmer. But now that she’s growing up, Susan must navigate increasingly murky waters. Author Waters (ha ha) is an expert at setting up expectations and then turning them on their heads. There are 3 or 4 plot twists that will blow your mind.

Waters tips her hat to Dickens as the story opens with young Sue being taking begging at a play (Oliver Twist). She is intensely frightened by the cruel Bill Sykes. Later Sue encounters her own Bill Skyes in the form of Richard Rivers, a seedy nobleman who plots to cheat one Lady Maud out of her fortune. When “Gentleman” cons Sue into helping him, the game is on!

Water’s use of period slang is masterful. It transported me to the world of the novel. It felt like magic.I do not know if Wales is as proud of Sarah Waters as it is of Dylan Thomas and other famous Welsh writers, but it should be.

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