Sue Trinder lives in Victorian London with her “adopted” family, who makes a living by thieving, a trade which Sue is readily a part of. Sue’s mother was out to death by hanging, so Sue has always considered herself part of a seedier society. She is close to Mrs Sucksby, who she considers a mother figure, and other than their profession, life is pretty normal for Sue. Or at least relatively so! That all changes when Gentleman comes along.
Gentleman is known by Sue, Mrs Sucksby and the rest of the “family” as he dabbles in their trade and shows up quite often at their home. One particular night when he shows up though, his objective is to get Sue on board with a scheme of his. Gentleman is currently working as a tutor in the country home of a man and his wealthy niece, Maud Lilly. Maud cannot receive her inheritance unless she is married. As is well known of the time period, this really means her husband will inherit the money, which is all a part of Gentleman’s grand plan. He wants Sue to come to the home as Maud’s maid and act as a go between for himself and Maud, all the while encouraging Maud to accept his favor. In turn, he will convince Maud to marry him and become the controller of her fortune. For her part, Sue will be rewarded with a fraction of the Lilly fortune.
The synopsis I gave you only begins to cover a few pages of what becomes one of the most plot riddled books of all time. I mean that only in a good way. Fingersmith can easily be equated to a roller coaster ride, because that is what it feels like. The twists and turns that are thrown at the reader make it a thrilling book, with the reader having absolutely no idea what will be hurtled their way next. It was the type of book that I would be gasping in shock through, which, who doesn’t love that!
The gothic element in Fingersmith is unparallel and is what Waters does best. The grittiness of living in Victorian London coupled by the gloominess of Maud’s mansion was so palpable. I felt like I was actually living there, completely involved in the story. And I wanted to be there!
Sue and Maud were both such real characters. The development was superb and they were both sympathetic despite their obvious faults. In fact, I couldn’t decide who I cared for more. I am pretty sure the honor would have to go to Sue though, as she was so misguided yet she never gave up. Gentleman, on the other hand, was a complete lost cause. You would be hard pressed to find a villain more vile than he.
Is it just me, or does it seem like I write the shortest reviews for the books I love the most? The problem with writing a review for Fingersmith is that it is so good, you want to encourage everyone to read it, while not spoiling any of it. I feel like it is best to write the barest of reviews while just expounding, over and over again, the fact that this is an excellent, phenomenal book. This one will definitely be included in my Best of 2010 category.
I bought this book from Barnes & Noble.
This book counts towards the Women Unbound challenge and the GLBT challenge.