Fingersmith by Sarah Waters is another brilliant novel from a woman who knows how to craft a story that reads like a classic but has all of the modern psychological depth of a contemporary novel. I loved her book, Tipping the Velvet, so my expectations were pretty high, going into this book. Isn’t it lovely when you finish a book you hoped you’d really enjoy and find yourself having fallen in love?
The story sounds like something straight out of Dickens. Sue Trinder is an orphan living in Victorian London with a family of thieves. When a member of the family comes with a scheme to cheat an heiress of her wealth, Sue is enlisted to help, tightening the loose threads of her fate, even as the ties herself more firmly to the loyalty she feels for her family.
The novel is told in the first person from two point-of-views, in the past and present tense, depending on the narrator. This two-point perspective manipulates the reader even as the characters manipulate one another, creating sympathy for some and more disdain for others. And just when you think you know what is going to happen, or believe you couldn’t like a character (or perhaps hate one more), Waters masterfully twists things yet again.
Can you tell I loved this novel? I became delightfully lost in the story and had to force myself to put it down when life insisted I stop reading. Brilliant novel for anyone who loves Dickens or the Victorian Era but wants something more modern, more provocative, yet equally gratifying to read.
I would love to see the BBC production someday.