Lately I’ve been in a book funk. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read, but nothings really jumped out at me. I’m a would-be-writer, so needed something that would inspire me to write again as recently I’ve been suffering from a real lack of motivation. Well, this book did that and more. It made me want to lay my hands on the keyboard and create characters like these…although I seriously doubt I ever could! Sarah Waters has such a talent for creating characters I sympathise with and feel like I know intimately.
The story centres on Susan Trinder, an orphan raised in the care of Mrs Sucksby in London. This novel is set during the Victorian era amidst a host of fingersmiths a.k.a thieves. Susan is offered the chance to participate in a con where she’ll have to play the part of maid to a lady called Maud.
The first section of the book, where we meet and learn about Maud, was five-star in my opinion. Maud was so vividly painted that I felt that emotional response that elevates a book for me. Unfortunately, I didn’t really feel that as much with Susan, and considering most of the book is narrated by her, it failed to remain five-star. The other characters, while expertly drawn, weren't like-able at all, so four-star it remained. A short while after we meet Maud there’s a twist that I didn’t see coming at all. After that initial twist there’s more and more mystery piled on, and I found myself mistrusting just about everyone!
The book worked in opposing viewpoints, so after Susan’s section, narration was from Maud. As I’ve said before in reviews, I love this approach as it really freshens things. While things were narrated by Maud though, there were a lot of unanswered questions, and that did seem to drag on for a while. Things got resolved eventually though, and the narration switched back to Susan and remained with her.
It’s really hard to talk about the plot without giving much away, so I won’t say much more for fear of entering spoiler territory. I will say though that it’s a fantastic plot and one which I didn’t think I’d like, but ended up loving.
If I had to choose though, I would say Affinity, her earlier book, is slightly better, simply because I felt a connection with one of the characters that remained the whole way through.