Lambda Literary Award
New York Times Notable Book 2002
Entertainment Weekly's Best Book: Overall Top 10 2002
Orange Prize for Fiction: Shortlist
Man Booker Prize for Fiction: Shortlist
Synopses & Reviews
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.
The New York Times Book Review has called Sarah Waters a writer of "startling power" and the Seattle Times has praised her work as "gripping, astute fiction that feeds the mind and the senses." Fingersmith marks a major leap forward in this young and brilliant career.
"[A] richly woven tale of duplicity, passion, and lots of other good stuff....Nobody writing today surpasses the precocious Waters's virtuosic handling of narrative complexity and thickly textured period detail. This is a marvelous novel." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Superb storytelling. Fingersmith is gripping; so suspenseful and twisting is the plot that for the last 250 pages, I read at breakneck speed." USA Today
"A marvelous pleasure....Waters's noted attention to historical detail and her beautifully sensitive dialogue help to anchor the force-five plot twisters." The Washington Post Book World
"A deftly plotted thriller....An absorbing and elegant story that's old-fashioned in the best way." Entertainment Weekly
"Oliver Twist with a twist: female and sexually aware....Waters spins an absorbing tale that withholds as much as it discloses....She writes great Gothic, her descriptive skill augmented by an acute ear for dialogue." The New York Times Book Review
"What a deliciously brazen stunt Sarah Waters pulls off....[A] first-rate pastiche of betrayed maidens and dastardly smiling villains....The erotic charge between Maud and Sue and the psychological games they play make Fingersmith a sophisticated treat." Los Angeles Times
"A sweeping read." The Boston Globe
"[The] energetic plot bristles with scheming villains and lurid details....Calls to mind the feverishly gloomy haunts of Charlotte and Emily Bronte....Elaborate and satisfying." The Seattle Times
"A doorstopper of a book that manages to be both Victorian and modern all at once....Full of enough sinewy twists and turns to make Wilkie Collins the Charles Dickens contemporary put down his quill in awe." Vancouver Sun
"An intriguing and entertaining read full of twists and turns, reversals and revelations....A haunting, disturbing and lovely ode to the universal frailties of the human condition." Rocky Mountain News
About the Author
A native of Wales, Sarah Waters is the award-winning author of Affinity and Tipping the Velvet.