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Industrial Age

Author: Waters, Sarah
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Time Period: Industrial Age
Time Frame: 1862
Geographic Area: Europe
Country: Great Britain
Topics: Victorian Era, LGBTQ+
Genre: Fiction
Reading Age: Adult
Format: Novel
Published: 2002

World History > Industrial Age > LGBTQ+

Oliver Twist with a twist... Waters spins an absorbing tale that withholds as much as it discloses. A pulsating story.”—The New York Times Book Review

Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a "baby farmer," who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby’s household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, also hosts a transient family of petty thieves—fingersmiths—for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home.

One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives—Gentleman, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a naïve gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, then they will all share in Maud’s vast inheritance. Once the inheritance is secured, Maud will be disposed of—passed off as mad, and made to live out the rest of her days in a lunatic asylum.

With dreams of paying back the kindness of her adopted family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, Sue begins to pity her helpless mark and care for Maud Lilly in unexpected ways... But no one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and reversals.

Emily's Review

This was such a great story! So many twists and turns, I never knew what was going to happen next!

Sue Trinder grew up in London with a clan of thieves and was trained to become a Fingersmith. But the woman who raised her kept her sheltered and never let her practice what she'd learned. One day, a man called Gentleman comes and asks her to help him con a simple lady out of her fortune. Her job is to become the lady's maid and convince her to run away and marry Gentleman. Then after he marries her, they'll dump her in an asylum and share her fortune. On the surface, it seems like a fairly predictable story. Trust me, it isn't. This is the kind of story where the less you know going into it, the better.

Fingersmith felt very Dickensian - I loved the Victorian setting and the story itself was fantastic. The writing is excellent. I was never quite sure what was going on but in the best way. It made me want to keep reading and unravel this wild mystery. The plot twists come at you out of nowhere, so when you think you are understanding what is happening, another twist will pull the rug out from under you.

This was my first Sarah Waters novel, but it definitely won't be my last. I want to read all of her work and I can only hope it is all as good or better than Fingersmith!

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