London 1862. Sue Trinder, orphaned at birth, grows up among petty thieves – fingersmiths – under the rough but loving care of Mrs Sucksby and her ‘family’. But from the moment she draws breath, Sue’s fate is linked to that of another orphan growing up in a gloomy mansion not too many miles away.
I re-read ‘Fingersmith’ as part of the David Bowie reading challenge that I first heard of on Scatterbooker’s blog. It wasn’t as if I needed an excuse though. I adored this when I first read it several years ago, and reading it again has only made me love it more.
Telling the story of Sue Trinder, an orphan brought up in a house of fingersmiths, the novel takes you from a compellingly dark and skilfully drawn Victorian London, to the countryside, where Sue is to be heiress Maud Lilly’s maid. This is all part of Richard ‘Gentleman’ Rivers’ plan to defraud poor Maud. Maud’s guardian, Uncle Christopher, a collector of erotica, controls her every move, and under these suffocating circumstances, the girls become intimate and Sue has her doubts about Rivers’ plan. Up until now we have been in Sue’s story, but we now switch to Maud’s point of view and the plot thickens. Who, exactly, is conning who?
There are some disturbing aspects to this novel – particularly creepy Uncle Christopher, but these add to the atmosphere that Waters so carefully and cleverly creates. The characters are fully formed, interesting and believable and the twists and turns will have you desperate to read on. The depictions of Victorian London are wonderful, beautifully atmospheric. To put it simply, it’s a damn good story! I hate clichés but once you turn the first page, this is very hard to put down.
When I went to post my review on Amazon, I saw this comment from another reviewer that struck such a chord, I had to include it in my own review:
‘I envy you that have yet to read this…’