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4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  48,558 Ratings  ·  3,445 Reviews
New York Times best-selling author of Affinity, Sarah Waters was named Author of the Year at the 2003 British Book Awards. Fingersmith was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the Booker Prize, and was chosen as book of the year 2002 by more organizations than any other novel. Orphaned as an infant, Susan Trinder was raised by Mrs. Sucksby, 'mother' to a host of ...more
Paperback, 582 pages
Published October 1st 2002 by Riverhead Books (first published February 4th 2002)
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Susan Well, the cynical answer to your first question is that Waters had done a ton of research about Victorian madhouses, and had to put one of her…moreWell, the cynical answer to your first question is that Waters had done a ton of research about Victorian madhouses, and had to put one of her characters into one in order to use thatinformation. The serious answer is that Mrs. Sucksby had always planned to get Susan's share of the inheritance away from her, and where better to stash her than in a place where she was legally as good as dead? Of course I have to wonder, wouldn't the cost of keeping her there eat up her share of the inheritance anyway?

2nd question: no, Mrs. Sucksby never had any feelings for Susan's mother, she was always interested in only two things. One was her own daughter and the other was the cash. She took in unwed mothers for cash, sold their babies for cash, and hit the mother-load with Susan's inheritance. She always treated Susan like a precious possession, which she was, and Sue, not knowing better, mistook that for unconditional love.(less)
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel FaberFingersmith by Sarah WatersPossession by A.S. ByattA Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba BrayTipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
Best Victorian Historical Fiction Set In Britain
2nd out of 200 books — 533 voters
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur GoldenGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellThe Pillars of the Earth by Ken FollettThe Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa GregoryThe Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Best Historical Fiction
147th out of 5,811 books — 22,375 voters

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Community Reviews

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Jun 10, 2010 karen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: michelle and dana
lesbian dickens!

now that i have your attention... dana has been bugging me to write a review of this for the longest time, and now that she is on vacation and out of my path for ten minutes (seriously - the girl moved to my town just so she could stand under my window all night calling "hey!! heyyy!! write a review for fingersmith! come on, you know you want to!!")

every night.

so, now that i have a little breathing room, i will do my best.

it's true, i want her to read this. i want everyone to re
Paul Bryant
Aug 12, 2012 Paul Bryant rated it it was amazing
This totally wonderful novel does exactly what the title says, it fingers your myth, it steals up on your soul and breathes down its neck and a shudder of pleasure is felt to the ends of all your extremities, your brain will wobble, your hair will vibrate strongly, and your eyebrows will be thrust up and down like energetic trampolining children as the intricate-clockmaker plot fastens your eyes ravenously to every page - draw the curtains, do not charge the mobile phone, tell your friends you ...more
Dec 01, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it
Pigeons and pearls. Perceptions and palpability. I’d explain in detail, but that would spoil all the fun. Instead, as elliptically as I can, I’ll hint at their relevance with vague allusions. Sue was an orphan in Victorian London, raised among thieves. Despite the fact that in the hierarchy of larceny her lot were never more than petite bourgeoisie, Sue’s existence was not as Dickensian as it might have been. Baby farmer Mrs. Sucksby seemed to take a particular shine to Sue, and more or less ...more
Oct 19, 2011 Limonessa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
I have to admit that throughout almost all of Fingersmith the main random thoughts sweeping across the desolate land of my mind were along the lines of: WTF? WHAT? WHAT DID JUST HAPPEN?

This is an intricate, ambitious, original, jaw-dropping, gut-punching, heart-wrenching plot for which I will NOT give you a synopsis. First, because I wouldn't know where to start from and second because it's better for you if you know NOTHING about it. Then you'll have my same random thoughts, as stated above.

Jan 10, 2008 Candise rated it it was amazing
A friend knocked on my door one evening and I answered, looking disheveled and I think a bit frightened. She asked me what was wrong, if she had interrupted something. I said no, that I had just been reading Fingersmith and I was really stressed out because now I had to leave the house and didn't know what was going to happen next. And that is basically how this book took over my life (in a good way).

Sue is an orphan who lives in London in a house of petty thieves. A con man known as Gentleman c
A tricky book to review, partly because it didn't live up to my (possibly unfairly high) hopes and partly because I'm trying to write shorter, punchier reviews, but this was almost 600 pages long. I have failed...

Great Expectations

Waters is an award-winning historical novelist, who specialises in the Victorian period (and lesbian protagonists). This book was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Orange Prize and her PhD thesis even covers a key subject of this book.

I was expecting something l
Linda O'Donnell F.
Holy Crackers! What a read! I felt like Alice falling down the Rabbit Hole. This story has more twists and turns than a shopping cart caught in the wind in a Walmart parking lot. When you commit to this one, please know that it is heavy lifting at almost 600 pages. Some parts are easily predictable, while other parts leave you smarting from the surprise attack.

Many others have done an excellent job in relaying the plot design here. I won't go into that aside from saying that Sarah Waters has an
Oct 21, 2011 Tatiana rated it really liked it
Recommended to Tatiana by: Tommy Tomato
Shelves: historical, 1001, booker, 2011
As seen on The Readventurer

Fingersmith packs quite a few twists and surprises.

At first, after reading the book's plot summary, I expected it to be a rompish, Les Liaisons Dangereuses-like adventure. 17-year old Susan Trinder, a foster kid in a family of fingersmiths (thieves), is recruited to act as a lady's maid to equally young and wealthy Maud Lilly. Susan's role in the devious scheme is to gently push this naive and simple-minded girl into the arms of Mr. Rivers, strip Ms. Lilly of her inher
Violet wells
This novel, for me all pastiche, pasteboard and mirrors, really irritated me principally because I could have read two good novels in the time it took me to wade through it.

For a start it’s way too long. It’s not like Waters is serving up any profound insights into human nature or casting her eye over a wide panorama of human life. It’s essentially a novel that traffics in pastiche (plagiarism?) and is built on two startling plot twists (and as such tailor made for the screen). Waters overwrite
Emily May
Aug 06, 2016 Emily May rated it it was amazing
This is a Victorian murder mystery with a lesbian romance. You will probably love it, but even if you don't, it's highly unlikely you will have read anything else quite like it.
helen the bookowl
4.5/5 stars.
I don't like to use this word but this book was definitely a "mind-fuck". I went into it not knowing much about it other than that Sarah Waters has written it, a lot of people have recommended it and I had previously read "Tipping the Velvet" by Sarah Waters, so I wanted to read more by her.
I LOVE that I didn't know what was coming because that made the reading experience so much more intense. I was in awe at several points in the book and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out
Wendy Darling
A superbly written novel, full of great twists and turns. You may be able to guess some of what's going on, but the author will still surprise you with daring prose and unexpected red herrings. If you've never read the author before (as I had not) I'd recommend not reading ANY reviews about the book, not even the Amazon general description. The book jacket and this should whet your appetite enough. Trust in the author to do the rest.
This book is like the most filling and nutritional junk food meal I’ve ever eaten. It has so many of the hallmarks of fluffy escapist literature: breathless action, turns of fate that are positively Dickensian, romance, family drama worthy of daytime television…not to mention an ending that I would probably accuse of being “too neat” in any other novel. But here…the emotions and characters just feel so heartbreakingly honest and real. Not to mention, any ending that harkens to one of my favorite ...more
Dec 21, 2014 Elaine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: like-it-like-it
I am always a little scared of books that have been nominated for The Booker Prize or the Orange Prize because I always feel that they are books that I “should” read and enjoy but worry that they are going to be too “intellectual” for me and way over my head, so it was with some trepidation that I picked up this book and yet, when it comes down to brass tacks, I absolutely loved this read and feel quite bereft now that I have got to the end of it.

Set in mid 19th century London and its surroundi
Mar 16, 2015 Chrissie rated it really liked it
ETA: No, this damn book IS worth four stars. I woke up early this morning worrying about my rating! Here is why I must give it four stars: I came to care deeply for three people: Susan, Maud and Mrs. Sucksby. Wait till you find out who exactly the last one is! They moved from being cardboard evil characters to people I felt compassion for. Yes all three of them. And look at all the other good things I have listed below!


By the book's end I was extremely impressed! By w
Jan 13, 2013 Daniella rated it it was ok
Part 1 = Amazing. Part 2 and 3 = Is this book over yet?!
Jun 19, 2007 Adam rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: people who like lesbian sex
Boring. Just boring. Painfully painfully boring. Are you willing to slough through 592 pages of wanna-be Victorian writing for a couple of plot twists and lesbian sex scenes?

Half the damn book was Waters narrating in excruciating detail who blushed when. Or, as she puts it, whose "face coloured" when. Note the 'u' in colored. That means that it's a classy British book and not at all a bland excuse to foist a little bit of bean-fiddling on those who are too repressed to admit that that's what the
Amanda Clay
Apr 01, 2007 Amanda Clay rated it it was amazing
While not as sexy as Tipping the Velvet, this book is a gripping read. I envy any reader their first trip through the story, because you will never guess what's going on or what's going to happen next. Perfectly plotted, brilliantly realized. Unfortunately, Sarah Waters' most recent book is rather a snore, and in her next book she's promised to abandon writing about lesbian characters all together ('cause the world of heterosexuality isn't yet well-documented. Sorry to be so bitter, but it makes ...more
Kate Quinn
Mar 20, 2016 Kate Quinn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book will probably make my year-end Top 10 list. A taut, atmospheric thriller with more twists and turns than a Whitechapel alley, plunging into the seamy underbelly of Victorian London. At first absolutely no one is likeable in this tale, certainly not protagonist Sue, a young thief who enters into a queasy scheme to help a con man marry an heiress and then lock her up in a mad-house to claim her fortune. Everyone has a secret and nothing is what it seems: not Sue, not her unscrupulous ...more
May 06, 2015 Stepheny rated it really liked it

I have met so many fabulous people through goodreads. I have created friendships and bonded with so many people through books on this website. It’s truly remarkable.

What’s cooler than that? That it is totally acceptable for me to push books on people like a common drug dealer! The fact that these people encourage me to branch out and read books that I normally wouldn’t. Some of those books have been better than others, and some have really surprised me.

When the lovely Lisa suggested Fingersmi
Mar 11, 2009 Tara rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who like unexpected plot twists, Victorian & Gothic elements
Shelves: favorites
If you've read the reviews for this book below, then you know that this book is on almost everyone's "favorite" list, and for good reason. This is my #1 favorite book (a tie to Jane Eyre, which is certainly hard to beat). I read this novel several years ago and have since loaned out 3 copies to friends only to never get them back. I am, in fact, due for another copy -- because I must have one of my own on the shelves!

Essentially, Fingersmith is everything I could possibly want in a novel. The na
4.5 stars

The plot twists in this novel are on point!
Jun 19, 2015 Phrynne rated it liked it
An okay book but it never really grabbed me which was awkward since it was very long. The plot was very convoluted to the point where I actually gave up trying to understand who was who and why and just read to the end to see what happened. The characterisation was okay, the Dickensian setting well done and the writing good. In fact everything was in place for it to be a good book but it just never made a connection for me.
I had high expectations of this: firstly, the one other book I've read by the author - The Little Stranger - is one of my absolute favourites, and secondly, I'd heard/read endless positive reviews of Fingersmith prior to reading it. It's the latter point that spurred me on to finally get round to it, as the plot didn't pique my interest in the same way The Little Stranger's post-war psuedo-ghost-story did. Fingersmith is set in Victorian England, and tells the tale of two teenage girls - both ap ...more
Nancy Oakes
I'm not really sure how to rate this novel. I could go on about how there is a ton of detail here, some of which could have been left out or pared down and on how some of the material verges on cliché, but I have to say that for me this time, it was purely about story. I mean, it's
not often I read a 500-plus page novel and manage to finish it over the course of a weekend, but Fingersmith is just the sort of book that enables that to happen. And as if the 500-plus pages I'd just read weren't eno
Nov 02, 2014 BrokenTune rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
3.5* rounded up to 4*

"We were thinking of secrets. Real secrets, and snide. Too many to count. When I try now to sort out who knew what and who knew nothing, who knew everything and who was a fraud, I have to stop and give it up, it makes my head spin."

It was with some trepidation that I started on Fingersmith. This was said to be the book that was most resembling a Dickensian story. I don't rate Dickens highly. I don't mind him, but I was afraid that people loved Fingersmith because they love t
What to say about this book? Nothing, except that you must read this book if you are a big fan of gothic plot with plenty of twisted events during the narrative.

So far, this is my favorite book written by Sarah Waters.

A TV series was made based on this book: Fingersmith (2005– )


Sally Hawkins as Sue Trinder
Elaine Cassidy as Maud Lilly
Imelda Staunton as Mrs. Sucksby
Rupert Evans as Richard 'Gentleman' Rivers
Charles Dance as Uncle Lilly
David Troughton as Mr. Ibbs
Bronson Webb as John Vroom
Jul 19, 2016 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction

A couple of months ago, Stephen King tweeted out some recommendations for great summer reading. In one of those tweets, he said, "Everything by Sarah Waters". Now that piqued my interest; I had only a passing knowledge of Waters, having only remembered when Fingersmith was
all over stores' bookshelves, but for some reason it seemed that this was in the romance genre and so, probably not for me.
Then I read some of the responses to this tweet: "Ingenious storytelling", "Lots of twists a
Jan 29, 2016 Jasmine rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone who likes Victorian or Gothic novels
Recommended to Jasmine by: Lauren
3.5 stars. Fingersmith is a very suitable book for the winter season. Sarah Waters manages to evoke this ‘Victorian-Gothic’ feeling I like so much in books. She describes masterfully Gothic manors, gruesome ‘lunatic asylums’ and of course Victorian London with its dark alleys and eerie shadows. It is an entertaining read and a real page-turner. The prose is simple with short sentences and not overly verbose, though still atmospheric.

Having said that, I must admit that I was expecting something
Mar 20, 2015 Lisa rated it it was amazing
I was a little torn over what to rate this book - it is not without it's flaws BUT the fact that I loved it so much and will carry it around with me for some time means it had to be 5 fabulous stars!

I was expecting a book a lot like Tipping the Velvet which I really enjoyed but this book took some of that style and surpassed it.

Take an intriguing tale of trickery, turn it on it's head, add in a love story, opposing lifestyles and some odious characters and you've got yourself a mind blowing tale
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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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“We have a name for your disease. We call it a hyper-aesthetic one. You have been encouraged to over-indulge yourself in literature; and have inflamed your organs of fancy.” 121 likes
“It's a curious, wanting thing.” 82 likes
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