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Fingersmith, Sarah Waters 
20th-Nov-2012 01:04 pm

Because of reasons – except who needs a reason for this? – I decided the other week that I really needed to read more historical lesbian fiction. “Like Tipping the Velvet!” I said, because that was the only one I really knew.

Except, “No,” says Becca. “You have to read Fingersmith,” because I’ve read that one and then you can tell me about your feels!”

So because I never disobey Becca with regards to story consumption, I obediently bought it for my Nook. Two days later I wandered into her room – which is a thing I do whenever I have to talk about stories and she’s very tolerant of it, I must say.

“So this hasn’t got much of a plot,” I say. “It’s very straight forward, linear. ‘This is what we’re going to do’ and then they do it.”

“Mmmmhmmm,” said Becca, pulling the kind of ‘I wont’ spoil it no I won’t I promise!’ face that I’m occasionally oblivious to in the force of my own OPINIONS. So I went back and continued to reading. Because I was still overtaken with feelings for the characters, and who needs plot when the characters are so good.

Actual text to actual Becca sent the very next day:


This would be the themes of texts I send Becca over the course of reading this rollercoaster of a book. I bleieve I actually sent her “OH MY GOD” verbatum twice.

Fingersmith has, without spoiling so in no particular order:

- plot twists
- Complex and confusing Victorian etiquette
- Found family
-  legacy of parents you never meet
- thieves!
- more plot twists!
- ambiguously gay!
- Victorian morality
- porn
-  some disturbing scenes of Victorian “medicine”
- switching of viewpoint characters with very distinctive voices
-  dramatic revelations involving details from the front of the book you thought were just detail
- loyal platonic female friendships!

Basically, I loved every minute of reading it, and just wanted to talk about it ALL THE TIME.

So if you like historical drama and you’re a fan of LGBT protagonists and just great twisty Dickensian stories in general, then you should read this book too so I can talk to you about it.

This post can also be found at Thagomizer.net. Feel free to join in the conversation wherever you feel most comfortable.

(Deleted comment)
21st-Nov-2012 12:56 am (UTC)
Email me all your feels! Or text them to me, whichever!
20th-Nov-2012 08:18 pm (UTC)
You might like to try Emma Donoghue next if you dig the lesbian historicals. And if I finish the Lesbian Kit Marlowe Project in time, I will probably let you read it for free.

(I adore Sarah Waters in general, but Fingersmith is my favorite of hers, surpassing Velvet and Affinity.)
21st-Nov-2012 01:00 am (UTC)
I just stuck a bunch of Donoghue on my wish list - I'll probably start with Life Mask, or Slammerkin. Do you have a favorite?

(Yay Lesbian Kit Marlowe! I'm so excited for your writing.)
21st-Nov-2012 01:08 am (UTC)
Slammerkin needs a het warning, but I do like the characters. I feel as though I would have liked it better had I gone in knowing there was a lack of queer, but one can't say it was badly researched.

I like Life Mask and The Sealed Letter equally; but I love The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits. As she's matured, Donoghue really seems to have nailed the short story. Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins is a book I revisit again and again. And she just now has a new book of short stories out that I'm going to buy with my Inevitable What Do We Get Selkie Money, it's called Astray and it's all short stories about emigrants/immigrants. I can't wait.

You might also like The Passion by Jeanette Winterson, but linear narrative it does not have.

I will also be excited if I manage to finish LKMP by its deadline next weekish. The plot seems to have taken a left turn at Wapping Old Stairs and gotten very damp.
21st-Nov-2012 07:17 pm (UTC)
I ADORE Kissing the Witch! My friend gave me her copy and I've read it several times, totally love it!

Back to Fingersmith, I found it too depressing - but I was reading it when I was about to be dumped (you know, when you get the feeling, but no specific evidence and everything is just horrible) and I think that coloured my view of the book. Maybe I should re-read it now times are happier.
21st-Nov-2012 01:10 am (UTC)
(I also [slight plug in the sense that it is a notification of its existence] have a Bletchley Park thing I'm working on. It's all on LJ so far. I have captive English persons to save me from going off any violently embarrassing stylistic cliffs, but you are always welcome to say something positive or negative or constructive or JESUS WHERE DID YOU GET YOUR MAP OF THE MIDLANDS.)
21st-Nov-2012 02:15 am (UTC)
Oooh yay! I will look! I actually only recently became aware of Bletchley Park because WHAT IS HISTORY so I'm super excited!
21st-Nov-2012 02:16 am (UTC)
History is the thing that starts after the Great Dying but before the computers show up.
21st-Nov-2012 02:23 am (UTC)
Which Great Dying? The first one; the one where all the oxygen went; the HOLY CRAP EVERYTHING'S DEAD one; the one that left only the interesting animals; the one where a rock hit the planet; or the one that's only sort of a Great Dying if you squint?
20th-Nov-2012 09:51 pm (UTC)
Yes, indeed - this was the first Sarah Waters book I read, and I think still my favourite. You'll probably also like Nightwatch, which also tells its story in an unexpected way (I'll avoid details in order not to spoil you), but is set in the 40s instead.
21st-Nov-2012 01:00 am (UTC)
I'll stick The Night Watch on my to-read list then. Thanks for the rec!
22nd-Nov-2012 11:23 am (UTC)
I have immediately ordered it from bookdep on the grounds that I LOVE YOU AND YOUR BOOKFEELS VERY MUCH RIGHT NOW OKAY

and also I need things to read with lesbians in, because reasons.

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