Monday, March 30, 2009
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Yum. Fingersmith is the perfect book for a rainy night or a long train ride. In fact, I was facing a somber, book-less and long train ride with no book when I bought Fingersmith from a depressingly unpopulated (by people or good books) store in D.C.’s Union Station. Just buying it relaxed me enough to cause a ride-long slumber.
When I finally picked it up a few weeks later, I took it on a trip to Philly. All I knew about Sarah Waters was that she wrote historical mysteries with lesbians and that she was sufficiently creative to have her books shelved in the regular fiction section. Upon diving in what is essentially the story of a long con played out by multiple characters, I was worried that the instances of dialect (i.e. old-timey British) would become annoying, but Waters managed to stay on the enriching side of that fine line most of the time. Best word: “fuckster.”
Oh my, you may thinking, that doesn’t sound old-timey to me. Well, Waters’ tale is not only set in seething dens of poverty and vice, but it is filled with crossing and double-crossing, greed and secrets. There are plenty of fucksters about in Fingersmith; in fact, the very structure of the novel underlines that. The two young, female, main characters are both the authors and victims of their own destruction and each tells her story in a well-controlled first person. Though the story she weaves is twisted, somehow Waters’ manages to keep it fast-paced and realistic enough to keep the tension running high.
Even when things get bleak, and they do, this book is incredibly fun.