I finished my second read of this Sarah Waters book earlier today. Wow. I want to reassure you that all of those 4 and 5 star ratings you see for this fantastic book filled with twists and turns are not inflated.
Fingersmith takes place in and near London during the mid-1800’s. Ms. Waters is a master at setting the scene and dropping us right in the dirty, stench filled city and into the minds of our two protagonists, Susan Trinder and Maud Lilly. The book is broken down into three parts – as is common with Sarah Waters’ work – the first part is told by Sue, the second by Maud, and we wrap it up with Sue. This book is about deception and is filled with thieves and villains and victims and there are times when we’re not sure who is playing what role.
Sue, a poor orphan being raised in a house of thieves, is drawn into a plot to steal away the fortune of another orphan, Maud. Sue has a softer heart that she initially thinks but fully intends to stick to the scheme. What she doesn’t plan on is developing strong feelings for Maud. Or that her accomplice, who goes by the nickname Gentleman, has a plan separate from the one he’s shared with her.
One of my favorite things about this book is being able to observe the same time frame from the perspectives of both Sue and Maud. And the author does a wonderful job of not dragging the reader through the events in a redundant way but, instead, one that enhances our understanding of what’s happening.
This book is masterfully put together and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a period piece or suspenseful mystery. And once you’ve read the book, be sure to check out the BBC production which, I thought, was also well done.