Book Review: Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Fingersmith What’s it about?

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.



My thoughts

After reading and enjoying Sarah Waters’ The Paying Guests, a member of my book club suggested I read Fingersmith as, in her words, “had one of the best twists she’d ever read”. So on that basis I borrowed her copy.

What I first noticed was some of the language used. I wasn’t sure if this was Victorian slang or an appropriate dialect from that era but I hadn’t really noticed that in The Paying Guests but then I suppose these are the lower classes! Such words like: brazier, bouncers, prigging, poke and cipher.

“So I thought then, anyway. I learned to cipher, though. I learned it, from handling coins”.

As seems to be Waters style, no detail is spared in terms of description and character attributes, which does result in a long book with ridiculously long chapters, however with this amount of detail, as a reader experience, it does make you feel fully immersed in Victorian life. I did feel that I was living and breathing London life.

Again, Waters seems to have this theme of forbidden love which I’ve now read in 2 of her books. I’m aware that this appears in another of her books and I think it kind of spoils any future books I read as I’ll be expecting it. What do you think? Do you think if an author has a particular style/theme it spoils your reader experience?

Without trying to divulge too much, there are twists that I didn’t see coming nor was I expecting; with the first actually making me suck my breath in over my teeth. Very clever and well plotted!

I really enjoyed this book and am glad I put in the time as it did take double my usual read time and therefore the only down side for me was the length of the chapters. Although, not enough to downgrade the overall star rating of 5* as Waters still has the ability to draw you in and spin a good old yarn. Thoroughly recommend if you like historical fiction mixed up with some mystery and a pinch of villainy for good measure.

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Connect with the author Sarah Waters


Jera's Jamboree/Talk of the Town


  1. 12th December 2015 / 11:52 am

    This could be my favourite Sarah Waters novel, I am glad you enjoyed it. Have you read “Tipping The Velvet”? This is the other strong contender for my favourite. Highly recommended!

    • 12th December 2015 / 6:52 pm

      I haven’t read Tipping the Velvet but have heard it’s very good. If the 2 I’ve read are anything to go by then I probably wouldn’t be disappointed 🙂

      • 13th December 2015 / 12:37 am

        You won’t be. I haven’t actually got round to The Paying Guests yet but the only one I have found a little disappointing up to now is “The Little Stranger” but that’s only because the standard of the rest of her books is so high- there’s nothing actually wrong with it- I just found it a little under-stated.

  2. 12th December 2015 / 6:44 pm

    Love reading your reviews Lindsay. It’s like we’re chatting over a cuppa (or wine!).

    Thank you for linking with #TalkoftheTown

    • 12th December 2015 / 6:50 pm

      Thanks Shaz. Maybe one day we will 🙂

  3. 16th December 2015 / 6:22 am

    I love Sarah Waters books and she is one of the few authors I re-read so I can’t agree that knowing what may happen spoils the reading experience – she is also one of the few authors who add minute detail without it feeling like unnecessary padding!

    • 24th December 2015 / 6:13 pm

      I’ll definitely read more of her books when I get chance 🙂

  4. 24th December 2017 / 2:45 pm

    Sarah Waters is great. Her novels are in a way great because most LGBT fiction we have is either too contemporary or too young adult-ish- So her Dickensian styled, literary masterpiece novels fill a huge gap in British literature, IMHO…

    • 24th December 2017 / 4:52 pm

      Totally agree! I’ve read two of her novels now and thoroughly enjoyed them both! 🙂

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