Bonnie's Reviews > Affinity

Affinity by Sarah Waters
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's review
Oct 22, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction, gothic
Read in February, 2012

This is my first Waters book and I’m not impressed.

There were hints of a good book here. The mystery, the gloomy, spooky mood, the whole what-is-real aspect, the unreliable narrator and the twist at the end where (view spoiler).

But there was so much underwhelming going on. This was pretty much The Yellow Wall-Paper, if that author had been dumb and made it a novel instead of an amazing short story.

There are two main narrators, which I didn’t figure out for several chapters because they spoke in the exact same voice. So for a while I was just like “hunh, this narrative is all over the place.” But then I noticed that some of the chapters were one year earlier and then I realized that the girl that Margaret meets in prison is the (fake?) spiritualist Selena. But it’s no good when your two narrators are so similar the reader can’t tell them apart.

I really hated Margaret. SHE WAS SUCH A WET BLANKET. I think one of my least favourite protagonist types is doormat. The more realistic the more annoying. I don’t care that there are millions of people like Margaret. THERE’S A REASON NO ONE WRITES STORIES ABOUT THEM. She was manageable when she developed spunk near the end, because she finally had hope in her life again.

I thought the most interesting character in the book was Helen. A lesbian, or at least a woman in love with Margaret, she ends up marrying Margaret's brother. Is she a closeted lesbian, living a lie with a man she isn’t in love with, but does care for? Does she truly love both Margaret and her husband? Her choices are so fascinating and the dilemma she finds herself in–-as a woman who possibly chose convention over love, a woman caught between two loyalties, a woman whose ex-lover and still-friend feels deeply betrayed—-is utterly compelling. So of course she’s regulated to being a side character.

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