New York Times best-selling author of Affinity, Sarah Waters was named Author of the Year at the 2003 British Book Awards. Fingersmith was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the Booker Prize, and was chosen as book of the year 2002 by more organizations than any other novel. Orphaned as an infant, Susan Trinder was raised by Mrs. Sucksby, “mother” to a host of pickpockets and con artists. To pay her debt, she joins legendary thief Gentleman in swindling an innocent woman out of her inheritence. But the two women form an unanticipated bond and the events that follow will surprise every listener.
©2002 Sarah Waters (P)2002 Recorded Books
I average about 3 audio books a week, so believe me, when I say this was my best listen of the year, it is not faint praise! If you love books set in England of the 1800's, books with intrigue, mystery, villany and even a slight bit of eroticism. This is the book for you also. The twists and turns are so remarkable, I actually stayed up because I had to finish. I found myself sometimes laughing and sometimes gasping at the sheer audacity of some of the characters. Just as I knew I had the game figured out, the book revealed something else that blew my theory totally away. Forget "The Crimson Petal and the White", Ms Waters knows how to write a totally spellbinding period novel that revels the ugly underside of London, and for that matter the ugly of the upperclass also, and she still managed to end the book in the most satisfactory manner. I highly recommend. Now, onto my next Sarah Waters novel! First, I must read about this author!
This book is broken into 3 parts. The first part follows a young orphan Susan Trendor raised in the manner of Oliver to be a thief by Mrs. Sucksby. Mrs. Sucksby treats Susan like a daughter and encourages her to go along with Gentleman's plot to defraud the rich young woman Maud Lilly by becoming Maud's maid in the great country estate where Maud is being raised by her uncle. Susan will be able to bring home 3000 pounds to her beloved Mrs. Sucksby if she helps Gentleman to woo and wed Maud. Gentleman's plan involves defrauding Maud of her fortune by having her placed in an insane asylum. The problem arises when Susan falls in love with Maud. Will she be able to carry out the plan?
The 2nd part centers on Maud after her marriage to Gentleman. We now discover some unpleasant truths about the true nature of the fraud and who is hurt by it. The 3rd part has both Maud and Susan seeking retribution for all the wrongs done against each of them.
This was an immensely listenable book even though it is long. I enjoyed the way the author described life in the truly dirt poor part of London where Susan is raised to be clever with her fingers at stealing. While Maud is raised in a great, dark, dreary, country estate in the country to be a different kind of fingersmith--a sort of secretary to her brutal and crazed uncle--in pornography.
Waters characterizes both girls as neither wan nor fragile even in the most horrific circumstances. She gives them personalities that make you cheer for them as the same time that you question some of their choices.
This book is well written with enough mystery to keep you listening long after you should get out of your car and go into the house to fix supper. I highly recommend this if you love period novels without the typical bodice rippers.
The story and the narration are gripping, mesmerizing. I could not stop listening. This book kept me awake, feeling exited and edgy. Twists of the plot are surprisingly unpredictable, portraying of human condition so vivid, so true. The narration was wonderful, masterfully conveying depth of emotions, inner life of the characters.
A friend called the book "soft Victorian, lesbian porn". I completely disagree. This story is so genuine, it feels like it is reaching down into the very depth of the human heart. Loved it.
I could never see very far around the bend ahead, and the story galloped for most of the read. Sarah Waters writes scenes that are richly atmospheric, and Juanita McMahon's voices are magic in themselves, so even when we're in suspense, waiting for what seems inevitable (so you may think), the wait is interesting and I always felt as if I were in the room with these characters.
I love historical English fiction and it's nice to get away from historical figures and into the lives of ordinary people. The comparison to Dickens is inescapable in that these are the struggles of the poor and it's a cruel world out there. It's also sexy and tricky. This is smart and well-crafted and an escapist reader's delight.
Mystery reader (especially series) and Austen lover
"Fingersmith" is the award-winning, masterful exhibition of Sarah Waters' exceptional skills in creating settings so real the reader can see them clearly and characters who are fully developed and who act like real human beings. In this book, the setting created is Dickension London and neighboring areas, and the characters, both lower and upper class, are ones who would feel perfectly comfortable among the characters created in Dickens' various stories.
Add to that setting and those characters a plot which would outdo even Dickens with its many twists and turns, leading the reader toward an inevitable conclusion, then at the last moment adding one more element and turning toward another inevitable conclusion, and then turning again. Waters keeps you guessing almost up to the end.
From the first words of "Fingersmith," I was completely engrossed. First because of the exceptional voice of narrator Juanita McMahon, quite low and velvety, speaking in the accents of the London slums. Then I became caught up with the characters and became embroiled in the plot. I remained engrossed right to the very last words of the story, more than 23 hours later. By then, I had laughed and cried at and with these characters, and I didn't want to let them go. I wished for a longer book or a sequel.
Some people have called this soft lesbian porn because the relationship between the two leading characters, both women, is gradually recognized by each of them as being love.
There is only one scene which contains a brief physical act between them, and it is described in such euphemistic Victorian terms that our more hardened modern sensibilities might barely notice it. For each woman, it is the love she feels for the other that is important and is almost the only source of joy in her life.
If you like Dickensian stories or settings, you should enjoy this book. Even if you don't enjoy such things, but do appreciate exceptional writing skill, I would recommend this book to you. There are passages in "Fingersmith" which were so well drawn that they took my breath away. Obviously, I recommend this book very highly.
If the characters had been at all empathetic I may have cared. This book has gotten such good reviews, am I missing something I just could not get into it. I gave up half way through part two.
That was the only good thing about it.
If you like dickens you will probably like this. If you need to care about the characters and feel like at some point in history they could have been real then don't even try.
If you like backdrops of tough, old timey England, and you like strong female characters with pluck, then read this book. You'll get all that and more with Fingersmith. This story pulled me in like a bedtime story for grown-ups. I felt I was on an magical ride with the heroine, caring about her ups and downs, and wishing it all lasted longer.
I am a huge fan of plot twists and being totally surprise by story lines. This was an excellent turn of events and I loved it.
It's a toss up between Maud and Susan. I enjoyed the inner struggle both of them were dealing with throughout the book.
She did the character voices very well. You could always tell who was speaking during the book, which isn't always the case with some of the performances I've heard.
I would have to say again, it's a toss up between Maud and Susan. There were so many intricacies in the book and with the struggles they were going through. I felt the story was one of the finest I've ever heard.
I am a grower. A tangle of vines weaving round myrtle branch fences. Rusty metal, soft stone, and worn wood. Unkempt curls and knees covered in clay. I listen.
Keeps you reading! I did not want to put it down.
Sarah Waters has a brilliant way of setting a landscape and of nurturing the subtleties of relationships as they blossom. The story is so vivid!
Yes! I love Juanita McMahon's performances! She is one of the best audiobook narrators I have ever listened to. She does distinct and different voices for all the characters. It really brings the book to life. Wonderful!
The twisting tangling story of two women trapped in a scheme and at odds with their own desires.
This is one of the best novels I have ever read.
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