Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Tessa Bright Wildsmith
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Tessa Bright Wildsmith writes the weekly book review Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading. When she's not designing advertising and page layouts for Blount Today, she's reading. She loves books of all kinds, but mostly fiction. Some of her favorite authors are Chuck Palahniuk, Kelly Armstrong, Andre Dubus III and Sarah Waters. Feel free to email her any suggestions you have for a great book.

Susan Trinder and Maud Lilly are both orphans. Susan has been raised in a house of thieves in London, while Maud has been raised as a lady in the English countryside. Neither girl knows the other exists until a grifter known as ‘Gentleman’ comes into the picture. Susan agrees to a scheme Gentleman has devised to steal Maud’s fortune. Susan will act as Maud’s maid and help Gentleman win her heart.

From here, the story twists and turns until one girl is locked up in an insane asylum and the other is being held captive.

I love plot twists, especially when I don’t see them coming. I didn’t see a single one coming in “Fingersmith.” As soon as you think you’ve figured out what’s going on, everything is turned on its head and nothing, and no one, is what you thought they were.

Waters’ characters are compelling and interesting. All the characters are distinct individuals, who most of the time, are not very likeable or sympathetic. However, even Waters’ most appalling characters have some redeeming qualities and are capable of making you feel something for them. Nothing is black and white in this book.

Waters’ wrote with stunning imagery. You can feel the drab, lonely countryside and almost smell the filth and bustle of London. My first night after starting this book, I dreamed about it the entire night. The pictures and characters were so clear in my mind, I couldn’t stop thinking about it even after I had fallen asleep.

This book does deal with some dark content, but, for the most part, these things are hinted at and not spelled out.

Waters’ writing is fine and detailed. I never got bored. I could feel her setting up the story line, but I was never uninterested in what the characters were saying or doing.

I devoured this book at break-neck speed. And, as I usually am with a great book, I was a little sad when it was over. At the same time, I couldn’t wait to tell the other book lovers I know about it, and wait for the gasps and open mouths when the plot takes one of its unexpected twists.

“Fingersmith” is a dark, gothic, Victorian-era novel with a intricate and deep plot, an unlikely romance and some of the most interesting characters I’ve met in a long time. High on my wish list of books to read is Waters’ most recent novel, “The Little Stranger.” I’m not sure it will hold up to “Fingersmith,” but I’m definitely willing to give it a try.

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