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Saturday, August 22, 2015

#25 More by Sarah Waters: Fingersmith

Yes, I'm on a Sarah Waters roll. First (literally the first book of the year) was The Paying Guests, which was terrific. Next, a couple of months ago, was The Little Stranger, not as terrific, but very good. And just recently was Fingersmith, which fell somewhere between very good and terrific. Very very good? Nearly terrific? 

It's the story of a young fingersmith -- a thief -- in London in 1862. Sue Trinder is an orphan, left in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a baby farmer who doses her babies into quietude with gin. Sue has been left in Mrs. Sucksby's devoted care by her mother, a fingersmith herself who was hung for her crimes.

The story is set in motion when Mrs. Sucksby and Sue are visited by Gentleman, a fallen swell, who has a plan to set Sue up as maid to a wealthy orphan as step one of a plot to steal the other young woman's fortune. But things are pretty much never as they seem, and there are a couple of Gone Girl-style gasp-inducing moments that had me going back and re-reading entire sections, just to make sure I was getting it all right.

The plot gets a little convoluted at times, but Waters keeps all the balls (and your head) spinning. The characters are as colorful as anything Dickens ever came up with, and the ever-thickening plot reminded me of his work as well. But things with Waters go deeper than Dickens ever did, and I ended up enjoying the book mightily, even though I couldn't begin to explain everything that happened.

I just discovered that the book was made into a British mini-series with Imelda Staunton and Sally Hawkins. Netflix, here I come!

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