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3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  16,819 Ratings  ·  1,148 Reviews
An upper-class woman recovering from a suicide attempt, Margaret Prior has begun visiting the women’s ward of Millbank prison, Victorian London’s grimmest jail, as part of her rehabilitative charity work. Amongst Millbank’s murderers and common thieves, Margaret finds herself increasingly fascinated by an apparently innocent inmate, the enigmatic spiritualist Selina Dawes. ...more
Paperback, 424 pages
Published 2005 by Natur och Kultur (first published 1999)
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Qelilah Don't see a way to edit my comment. I see that my audio writer put Dors and not Dawes.
Qelilah I believe Veritas are pictures in the middle ages depicting real life of the common people. Just a guess from studying the Borgias, Medici, Italian…moreI believe Veritas are pictures in the middle ages depicting real life of the common people. Just a guess from studying the Borgias, Medici, Italian era.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Wendy Darling
Apr 09, 2016 Wendy Darling rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of gothic literature, Edgar Allen Poe
In reading the gothic psychological novel Affinity, it is nearly impossible to shake off an overwhelming feeling of gloom and pervasive dread. Following a failed suicide attempt, a young "lady visitor" named Margaret Prior develops a relationship with an inmate named Selina Dawes in a Victorian women's prison, and both their lives are forever changed by their acquaintance.

Narrated in alternating chapters by the two very different women, this dark, moody story incites fear, melancholy, and terrib
Oh, Sarah Waters, the lesbian Charles Dickens. Some think she’s boring and I totally understand that. Nothing can be more mundane than flowing, ornate sentences filled with imagery strong enough to physically transport you to the setting, right? And don’t get me started on that gorgeous historically accurate Victorian-style prose. I’m half asleep just thinking about her engaging plots and characters. So, yeah, I can definitely see how it can be boring and how you’d rather watch football or somet ...more
Oct 11, 2011 Tatiana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of quality women's fiction
As seen on The Readventurer

It is almost impossible to say anything about the plot of Affinity without spoiling something, so I'll refrain from recapping. A wealthy, depressed old maid starts visiting a women's prison and quickly finds herself taken by an inmate, a young spiritualist - that's all you need to know.

Let's talk about feelings instead. This sense of emptiness and despair I am left with is so overwhelming right now, that it leads me to believe I might have liked Affinity even more than
Jul 01, 2012 Inge rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
DNF 43%

I am sorry, Affinity, that we didn't work out. We both just want different things. It's not you, it's me. I'm just not in the right state of mind to read you right now. But someday, somewhere, you will make a reader fall in love with you, and you will make that person very happy. And that is what you deserve.

Go in peace now. I release you.

Finished it anyway

Nope, still don't get it.
Sarah Waters, at this stage, must be the accepted queen of Victorian Gothic lesbian melodrama; not, I imagine, that there is much competition for this title, but I think it's a deserved one nonetheless.

In many ways, the plot of Affinity is like that of the other work of Waters' that I have read, Fingersmith. Crime and Victorian punishment, repression and sexuality and psychology, all feature heavily in both books. Affinity, however, is a much more satisfying novel for me. While it, too, hangs on
Gah! I can't do this. It's so slow and just so boring...So DNF from me :(
Jul 25, 2010 Rainbow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think Sarah Waters is brilliant. This is third book I've read of hers so far, and I couldn't put it down. (TENSE.) I was a bit disappointed with the ending. At first, it reminded me too much of "Fingersmith" -- though they're not really alike. (They're both kind of Sixth-Sensey.) All the same, I'm going to read the rest of her books. Because when I'm reading one, I can't wait to get through it. And when it's over, I feel sad, like I won't find anything near as good to read next.

Elizabeth (Alaska)
Sarah Waters sets the atmosphere of this early on. Does gothic always take place at an old mansion hidden in fog? No, here it is Millbank prison on the banks of the Thames River. Let's not forget the spirits that we can expect in a gothic novel - certainly Sarah Waters has not.
To Millbank. It is only a week since my last visit, but the mood of the prison has shifted, as if with the season, and it is a darker and more bitter place now, than ever. The towers seemed to have grown higher and broader
Have you ever read a book and experienced de ja vu at the ending??? I thought this book was one I haven't read before (I still think so) but at the end.. it seemed vaguely familiar as if I had read it. I wasn't too surprised and thought "Wait.. I think I read this before." Chalk it up to the creepy experiences that Margaret Prior experiences through out the book.

My thoughts/reactions:

-The Victorian prison system was abysmal for inmates. The idea of spending years with the notion of no news of
Generally, I don't pick up random books at Barnes and Noble that I don't already know a little about. However, I made an exception with Affinity because it intrigued me so. I come to find out that was a pretty costly mistake.

Firstly, the book dabbles in the supernatural psychics world which I already hold a serious distrust for. However, I thought this book might present the spiritual medium's world in a light that's a little more pretty and entertaining. No, instead I still feel oddly at ends
Oct 15, 2014 BrokenTune rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
"Now I have more freedom than I ever had at any time in my life, and I do only the things I always have."

Affinity - a feeling of closeness and understanding that someone has for another person because of their similar qualities, ideas, or interests.

This book was not easy to get into. I'm neither a fan of Dickensian tales of woe nor of paranormal or supernatural stories, so for most of this book I was not convinced I would finish it, never mind like it.

The structure of the book was difficult, to
‘Afinidad’, de la galesa Sarah Waters, está ambientada en el siglo XIX victoriano, y explora el oscuro y opresivo mundo de una cárcel de mujeres, a la vez que nos muestra cómo era el ambiente del espiritismo en aquella época. Igualmente, el amor lésbico está presente, y, aunque no explícitamente, sí se trata con naturalidad, algo que en la narrativa victoriana sólo podía ser leído entre líneas.

La historia está escrita en forma de diario a dos voces, las de Margaret Prior y Selina Dawes, lo que d
"Sexy, Spooky, Stylish" - that's the blurb on the cover. If I was not a Sarah Waters fan already, I would have picked up the book based on those words. How can you resist a book with that description? After reading the book, I can safely say that those words are an accurate description of Affinity. I will further add to that - "Haunting and magical."

It seems, I have been reading many deliciously gothic novels recently. Well, I am not complaining! Affinity is yet another addition to my love for a
Sep 27, 2010 Celine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I started this book, I had no idea how sad Affinity would make me. Because it does, and it has, for at least two days even after finishing the book.

Affinity is the tale Margaret, a young lady living in nineteenth-century London. After her father's death, Margaret has fallen ill for half a year. Now everything is slightly better, she has taken it upon her to visit the female inmates at the Millbank prison as Lady Visitor. Here she meets the spirit medium Serena, who starts to intrigue her mo
Nov 14, 2011 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, 2014
I've felt many different ways about Sarah Waters novels. The first I read - Tipping the Velvet - I loved. I got to the end and turned immediately back to the begining. Fingersmith I really enjoyed, The Night Watch I thought was ok and The Little Stranger I hated.

So who knew where I was to stand with Affinity? After all, my feelings on SW run the entire gauntlet. But I was excited when I realised I'd forgotten about this novel of hers and - happily! - I wasn't disappointed.

I didn't love it as mu
Set in the mid-1870s, Affinity is the story of lonely Margaret Prior. Nearing thirty, unmarried, and recovering from a series of difficult and upsetting events including the death of her beloved father, she takes up the duties of a 'lady visitor' at London's Millbank prison. Assigned to visit, speak with and offer companionship to the female prisoners, she finds herself developing a particular affection for one inmate - Selina Dawes, an alleged medium imprisoned for fraud and assault. At first, ...more
Jan 05, 2012 Maggie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sticking with the gothic theme for a bit. Affinity is a book I actually hadn't heard that much about. But after loving Tipping the Velvet so much last year, the last time I was at the secondhand bookshop I picked it up. Which was fortuitous as there were a few other Sarah Waters options, but this was the one chosen as a group read for April.

The book is another Victorian London historical fiction. We meet Margaret, the eldest, single sister in her family, as she starts her first day as a Lady Vis
When I first finished this book, I rated it 4 stars because my head was still spinning from the very clever twists at the end. But now I come to review the book and it is very definitely a 5 star read for me.

This darkly gothic tale takes part in Victorian London and Waters' writing really paints a vivid and stark portrait of what it must have been like living there, and in particular what life was like in a women's prison.

When I started reading the first chapter, I thought I wasn't going to lik
Jan 14, 2010 El rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This second book by Waters takes place again in 19-century England much like her first book, Tipping the Velvet. This story takes place not on the stage and in the bedrooms of ladies, but primarily in a women's prison. Margaret is a "Lady Visitor" as part of her rehab after attempting suicide after her father's death. While there she becomes captivated by Selina Dawes, a woman who was imprisoned for her work in spirituality after a seance went awry. Margaret begins researching Selina and fills h ...more
May 27, 2015 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-author, audio
Set in 1870's London this tells the story of Margaret who is a lady trying to recover from a suicide attempt by visiting those less fortunate than herself at Millbank women's prison and Selina who is a spiritualist who ends up in prison when a seance goes wrong.
We follow their stories separately and as their worlds collide so the bond between them is revealed, from both sides.
Beautifully written with a supernatural element that gives it a creepy edge and an interesting insight into how the priso
Pablo Guzmán
Mar 05, 2017 Pablo Guzmán rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Les cuento que Sarah Waters inventó la novela de fantasmas, la novela de misterio, el estilo indirecto y la ficción en general.

En esta historia cargada de ambigüedades y de un sublime erotismo de alto voltaje, Sarah Waters presenta a una espiritista encarcelada por un crimen que asegura que no cometió y una visitadora social que intenta escapar de la depresión causada por la muerte de su padre, protagonistas cuya afinidad hará converger sus caminos en medio de secretos, revelaciones y aparicion
Elizabeth Lee
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
What to say about Affinity? I liked it.... mostly. No, no that's not correct. I liked it a lot but it took me fooooorever to finish it. Was it me? The writing style? The excessive female hysteria? Hmm... I guess the only way to decide for sure is to pick up another Sarah Waters novel.

I definately recomend Affinity for lovers of Victorian literature. In fact, I have a suspicion that my impatience with this style of writing is what made the book so slow for me. In theory, it is awesome ~ women's
Sep 24, 2015 Vienna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
I really loved the storyline and the two main characters. The story and how it was told is just really unique and very dark. I got the feeling that is was like Orange Is The New Black, but even more darker and more about mental illness and crazier things. There were also some really good twists.

The reasons why I can't give this book 5 stars is because I was confused something (especially in the beginning) and I wasn't hooked that much as I was with Tipping The Velvet. It is also not that romant
Oct 13, 2016 Deb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An incredible Gothic story. Very tense and perfect ending!
Mar 05, 2017 Lydia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Sarah Waters sure knows how to weave a good storyline.

The atmosphere in this book was so well built up. The darkness, the claustrophobia, the dankness. She paints such a vivid picture. When the book was inside Millbank Prison, I felt like I was there with the characters. I know some people don't care for her lengthy descriptions, but they just draw me further in to the tale.

The book has two narrators, although I'd say that our main one is Margaret, the spinster who is the Lady Visitor at Millban
I have said it before, I will say it again. I cannot fathom how Sarah Waters does it, how she can draw the reader into this entirely other world, this other period, time, place, complete immersion. Even something simple like the protagonist Miss Prior's afternoon in The Spiritualists' Reading Room instantly conceived for me a dim, smoky, velvet lined library where she learns the secrets of her true love/affinity's case. Genius.

I honestly do not typically care for the paranormal stories, but und
Natalie Tyler
Feb 04, 2017 Natalie Tyler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
This darkly sinister novel is a repository of information about women's prisons, the spiritualism that became quite a fad in the mid to late Victorian period (See Robert Browning's "Mr. Sludge, the Medium"), and the dark confinement of women in general and in particular women in mourning. The Victorians had to a large extent "domesticated" death and post-mortem photographs and mourning rings and mourning clothing were customary.

In this novel we meet an upper-class lady who lives on Cheyne Walk,
Nicole Sweeney
This review and more at The Bibliophile Chronicles!

A sad Gothic novel filled with a continuing feeling of dread.

Margaret Prior is recovering from a suicide attempt. After the death of her father she arranges to attend a local prison a few days a week to visit the prisoners - to talk and comfort them. On her rounds she meets Selina Dawes, and the two strike up a friendship. Selina is a medium, imprisoned for a seance gone wrong. Unsure whether to believe Selina’s gifts are real, Margaret is drawn
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Guardian Newspape...: February - Affinity 16 33 Feb 22, 2015 02:04PM  
Veritas by Crivelli 1 19 Nov 05, 2014 04:44PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Alternate book cover 3 19 Aug 07, 2014 12:20PM  
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Sarah Waters is a British novelist. She is best known for her first novel, Tipping the Velvet, as well the novels that followed, including Affinity, Fingersmith, and The Night Watch.

Waters attended university, earning degrees in English literature. Before writing novels Waters worked as an academic, earning a doctorate and teaching. Waters went directly from her doctoral thesis to her first novel.
More about Sarah Waters...

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“Why do gentlemen's voices carry so clearly, when women's are so easily stifled?” 41 likes
“It is a world that is made of love. Did you think there is only the kind of love your sister knows for her husband? Did you think there must be here, a man with whiskers, and over here, a lady in a gown? Haven't I said, there are no whiskers and gowns where spirits are? And what will your sister do if her husband should die, and she should take another? Who will she fly to then, when she has crossed the spheres? For she will fly to someone, we will all fly to someone, we will all return to that piece of shining matter from which our souls were torn with another, two halves of the same. It may be that the husband your sister has now has that other soul, that has the affinity with her soul—I hope it is. But it may be the next man she takes, or it may be neither. It may be someone she would never think to look to on the earth, someone kept from her by some false boundary...” 26 likes
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