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13 February 2014

Sarah Waters
Riverhead Trade
Publication Date
01 October 2002
Crime fiction, historical fiction

A colleague recommended Sarah Waters to me, and this is the book I picked up in the book shop. I can't remember why I chose this title, but just that I thought 'Ok, I'll give it a go. Historical fiction (even if with a twist, as here), in my opinion, can be a bit hit and miss and can quickly turn into a history lesson which is fine if this is what you are after. Not so this book which entertained me from the first page.

The book is separated in three parts. In part one, we get introduced to Sue who is an orphan young woman, living in Victorian London with Mrs Sucksby who brought her up. Now Mrs Sucksby has many orphans under her wing in a Fagan-style operation who work as 'Fingersmith's' = petty thieves. Richard 'Gentleman' Rives arrives at Mrs Sucksby's to propose a scam, and Sue is told that she will have to assist 'Gentleman' who wants to seduce wealthy heiress Maud Lilley and marry her for money, than declare her insane and commit her to an asylum to claim her money. So 'gentleman' sets Sue up to work as a maid with Maud who lives with her uncle in a secluded country home. Maud is kept in the house by her uncle and she helps him compile and take care of his library. The two women are of similar age and slowly, an attraction and passion starts to develop between those two. But Sue is, of course, too aware that she has been sent here to scam Maud and can't help but think: is she doing the right thing?

If you have not read the book and don't know anything further about it, I would very much urge you not to read full reviews of the book if you want to enjoy it fully. The reason is that, from Part 2, the story completely turns on it's head and many things are not like they seem (including the library of Maud's uncle). It took me so much by surprise, I could't believe what I was reading. And that's why I deliberately will not tell you anything else about where this story goes. I can almost guarantee that you won't be able to put it down. I went out straight after and bought all the other Sarah Water's which were available. Yes, you could say I'm a fan. :) 

About the Author (taken from Amazon)


Sarah Waters was born in Wales in 1966 and lives in London. Author of Tipping the Velvet, Affinity, Fingersmith and The Night Watch, her most recent book is The Little Stranger. All of her books have attracted prizes: she won a Betty Trask Award, the Somerset Maugham Award and was twice shortlisted for the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. Fingersmith and The Night Watch were both shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange prizes, and Fingersmith won the CWA Ellis Peters Dagger Award for Historical Crime Fiction and the South Bank Show Award for Literature. Tipping the Velvet, Affinity and Fingersmith have all been adapted for television.