53. FINGERSMITH, BY SARAH WATERS
Recommended by Holly, on Goodreads. I had heard about this book before, and was interested, but couldn’t find it for a while. I did find it on this second try, though, so I got to reading it. Because of the previous recommendation, I was expecting a romance story with lesbians... That was kind of what it was, but not quite. Still, it was nice.
Synopsis: Sue is the adoptive daughter of a woman who runs a “baby farm” and whose house is the refuge for many petty thieves in a slum in London during Victorian times (I think). She is hired by Gentleman, one of those petty thieves who has a noble air about him, to pull the heist of a lifetime: pose as a chambermaid to a rich heiress, convince her to marry him, and then denounce her as mad and have her locked away, allowing Gentleman to keep her fortune. What happens is not what she expects.
Overall enjoyment: It was very nice. Like many people said, it has a lot of Dickens in it, plus lesbian romance. It had very unexpected plot twists and it was, overall, a good read.
Plot: I had a few problems with this. See, Mrs. Sucksby had no reason to have Sue put away. She raised the girl, didn’t she? She knew her, she knew she was loyal, it would have been the obvious conclusion that she would get to keep all the money by having the two girls with her, and any objection Mr. Lilly could have made would have been easily dealt with. And, on the same line, I find it very hard to believe that she would be able to raise a child, make this child believe utterly that she is loved, and not feel anything for her at all. Because of that, the betrayal felt completely out of character and an artificial plot device. The rest of the story was very good, but this kept nagging me.
Characters: Mostly, well developed (with the exception above). Their relationships and the way they react to one another are very well done. I especially liked how she foreshadows things with the characters’ reactions, but hides the plot twists by having other characters misinterpret them.
World/setting: Victorian London, very reminiscent of Dickens. Quite pleasant to read.
Writing style: Easy flowing and coherent with the time being portrayed.
Representation: YES. It DOES have a lesbian romance. (It’s also kind of implied that Gentleman might be gay.) No PoC that I can remember.
Political correctness: The portrayal of Sue and Maud’s relationship is very honest, including their fear, awkwardness, and the way other people judged them.
Up next: One Good Turn, by Kate Atkinson