Spoilerful Fingersmith


If you’ve clicked over to here, I assume you have already read the August COBC selection Fingersmith by Sarah Waters.    I share random thoughts that would have spoiled the book if I had read this post, so beware!    [My less spoilerful FULL review here.]

I already wonder if I knew TOO MUCH going in – the twists!!  the turns!!!   and yet I think I also wanted to read it because it had TWISTs!  and TURNs!!   so who knows.   We can’t undo a knowledge or experience once known/experienced.

I was impressed how the lesbianism was introduced or delved into and not that this is likely to be a spoiler since Ms. Waters does seem to include this in many (all?) of her books, but I think I was expecting more in-your-face.   Is this a bias of my being straight and brought up in a conservative household where I was not allowed to watch Soap or even Three’s Company when I was a kid?   Anyway, I thought all the sections on this quite tasteful, really.

Maud’s upbringing and ‘education’ was fascinatingly strange!     The gloves, again.   Sure, so she didn’t harm the valued books which she would read for her uncle and his guests.     Ugh.     He was one ‘off’ dude, right?

Somewhere I had the idea that Sue and Maud would end up being sisters.      So that was either good or bad in my attempts to guess and predict some OMG moments.

I kept wondering HOW naive Miss Sue really was and how street smart was she really.   An intriguing character indeed, she had a good heart as well as lack of morals – ha!   but Maud was just delicious.    Still, I was a bit annoyed with her for being so upset about being taken back to Mrs. Sucksby’s and I DID figure out that Maud was being too fussed over too much and what that possibly meant.   Not that I quite put the clues together and I was impressed by the unfolding of it all.

I kept wondering how the money and the legal transfer of funds was going to play out.    Guess that wasn’t really important…   (Details, details.   Boring legal financial details.)   Like, was it going to be challenged that Sue opened her letter early?  Who would know how to legally challenge her birthdate anyway?!?!    and why wasn’t Sue taught to read more than just her name?   If Mrs. Sucksby knew how to read, she should have taught her precious Susan a bit better, in my opinion.

And that silly lad who had the google-eyes adoration for Gentleman and wanted to be his valet?   – he was just TOO MUCH of a sissy.   Bugged me.

All just picky stuff.   Overall, a fun read. And so much different than what I’ve been reading of late.     I look forward to reading another Sarah Waters book and would love suggestions as to which???


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8 thoughts on “Spoilerful Fingersmith

  1. I do not know if it had to do with your upbringing. I didn’t have many thoughts on it, except that I really liked how it was introduced and how it played out in the story. I guess I had expected more explicit references because of the way many people in general (not bloggers) react to Sarah Waters’ books: they often remark on “oh, a book about lesbians” while to me it really is a book about a lot of different things with characters that are, as it turns out, lesbians. I couldn’t help but wonder about what it must’ve been like being a lesbian at that time though. It is not often that you read about it. And that is why I really enjoyed Sarah Waters portrayal as well.

    1. YES! “a book about a lot of different things with characters that are, as it turns out, lesbians.” That could be the trouble with classifying books – such a charged word can lend itself to all sorts of burdensome expectations (ie, feminism?!) and so that is why I really enjoyed it just being another layer to the story. and beautifully done.

  2. I watched “Soap” and “Three’s Company” as a kid (but not “Charlie’s Angels” – that was forbidden!). I thought the relationship between Maud and Sue was well done. I generally don’t like too much “romance” (regardless of the sexual orientation). But as you point out, the love story was just one layer in a story with many layers.

    One thing I particularly liked about the book was how it demonstrated how few rights and how little power women had at that time. When Maud runs away, she has no options but to return. One of the things I disliked most about “The Other Boleyn Girl” and “The Queen’s Fool” by Philippa Gregory was the anachronistic preaching “If only a woman had the same rights as a man” internal dialogue of the characters.

    I expect Mrs. Sucksby kept Sue illiterate for a reason. She would have less ability to challenge the will, should she want to. And I don’t think Sue was precious to her at all, not as a person at least. She was a commodity, to be used and discarded.

    I am going to read “Nightwatch” next. The only other book that I have read by Sarah Waters is “Little Stranger”, which I enjoyed, but not as much as “Fingersmith”.

    1. Ruthiella, too funny that Charlie’s Angels was bad but the other shows OK? whatever, right?

      You bring up an excellent point abt Mrs. Sucksby’s considering Sue a commodity and yet how interesting that Sue thought she was treated ‘special’ and was so loyal to Mrs.S in the end.

  3. I read this book while I was taking a class with a graduate student whose field of study was basically porn based on Victorian literature. (I know, right? Apparently there’s tons of it.) And when I was reading, the book felt SO REAL that when the nature of Maud’s uncle’s books was revealed, I made myself a little note to tell my classmate. And then I remembered that it was fiction and my classmate wouldn’t care. :p

    When I reread this book I loved seeing all the little hints we had (aside from the foreshadowing, which I agree was quite heavy) that I hadn’t picked up on the first time through. Sarah Waters is a hell of a writer.

    P.S. I love Soap.

    1. So, not Victorian porn but current porn set in Victorian times? huh. I still bet he would have been interested. maybe. What do I know?

      I snuck viewings of Three’s Company but Soap was prime time so I rarely if ever saw it!

  4. I think I was a bit ruined knowing there were lots of twists and turns too. I didn’t find anything too surprising or shocking. And I expected far more about the lesbianism as well. I’m not sure I would have liked the book anyway, since it was the characters I really didn’t mesh well, but these things didn’t help.

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