Siria's Reviews > Affinity

Affinity by Sarah Waters
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Jun 05, 07

bookshelves: 21st-century, british-fiction, historical-fiction, queer-lit
Read in August, 2005

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 some often surprising twists of coincidence, these twists are orchestrated by an intelligence that is much more subtle and convincing, to my mind, than the occurrences in Fingersmith (I found those to be much too Dickensian, and I loathe Dickens). And while, admittedly, I never came to feel terribly attached to and moved by Margaret and her plight - she was a little too detached, and her fate a little too obviously signposted - she was undoubtedly a well-drawn character.

The real achievement of the book, though, is the sense of period and atmosphere and mood it has. When I closed the book, I had the strongest desire to open all the windows in the room, because I needed sunlight and wind, after spending so long in the airless world that Waters created. It's rare anymore that a book has that effect on me, so I do think that this is one that I will be re-reading and savouring.
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