Set in and around the women's prison at Milbank in the 1870's, Affinity is an eerie and utterly compelling ghost story, a complex and intriguing literary mystery, and a poignant love story with an unexpected twist in the tale.
Following the death of her father, Margaret Prior has decided to pursue some 'good work' with the lady criminals of one of London's most notorious gaols. Surrounded by prisoners, murderers, and common thieves, Margaret feels herself drawn to one of the prison's more unlikely inmates - the imprisoned spiritualist Selina Dawes.
Sympathetic to the plight of this innocent-seeming girl, Margaret sees herself dispensing guidance and perhaps friendship on her visits, little expecting to find herself dabbling in a twilight world of seances, shadows, unruly spirits, and unseemly passions.
©1999 Sarah Waters (P)1999 W F Howes Ltd
"Spooky, spellbinding, exquisitely written . . . I do believe Waters is on the way to becoming a major literary star" (Val Hennessy)
"Indeed, this is such a brilliant writer that her readers would believe anything she told them" (A. N. Wilson, Daily Mail)
"Refined, repressed and simmering . . . a delicious tale of Victorian spiritualism" (Mel Steel, Independent on Sunday)
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"Slow going at first but speeds up well."
Yet another frustrated spinster is the heroine of this book until she finds a project to occupy her time by becoming a prison visitor. In the prison she comes under the spell of a prisoner called 'Dawes' and gradually she is drawn into the world of spiritism. As the story unfolds we understand that 'Aurora' had been in love with her brother's wife and had suffered a nervous breakdown from disappointed expectations. This has led her mother to treat her with various opiates. I think the historical detail is wonderful and the Victorian world recreated in a most convincing fashion. I don't know whether it is the pace of the narrator's reading which gave me the impression of a rather slow moving story through the first part of the book. It did seem to be slightly tedious at times. However the pace really picked up in the second part and the ending was marvellous. The debunking of the spiritism was very well done indeed. In spite of the slow start I would reccommend this book as it is a very enjoyable read on the whole.
"The in improbable made readable"
I found that despite my misgivings of the setting, it was a worthwhile read.
Nothing explicit, very romantic, but enjoyable
"So interesting and a great twist"
I really enjoyed this book, although the twist wasn't that unexpected, it still made me gasp. I loved the readingn, I thought it was well done and did the story justice.
Engrossing, superbly paced novel excellently read. The claustrophobic life of Victorian women within society - as well as in prison - comes over so well.
a bit slow was a twist but not a genius one. Not as good as her other books
"Spoiled by an Amazon review"
Not read a review first.
Haven't heard any of her other performances.
I looked at a couple of Amazon reviews to see what others thought before spending a credit on a new (to me) author. Unfortunately the person gave away a massive plot spoiler which completely ruined the story for me.
"Dull and tedious"
The heroine of this long drawn out tale is a woman who is lesbian and is emotionally disturbed, trapped by a less understanding society than we have now. She has lost a father and is recovering from a love affair with a woman who is now her sister in law. A failed suicide attempt behind her and a mother from hell, she thendecides to go good works by visiting female prisoners
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