FingersmithBook - 2002
"Oliver Twist with a twist...Waters spins an absorbing tale that withholds as much as it discloses. A pulsating story."-- The New York Times Book Review
The Handmaiden , a film adaptation of Fingersmith , directed by Park Chan-wook and starring Kim Tae-Ri, is now available.
Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a "baby farmer," who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby's household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, also hosts a transient family of petty thieves--fingersmiths--for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home.
One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives--Gentleman, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a naïve gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, then they will all share in Maud's vast inheritance. Once the inheritance is secured, Maud will be disposed of--passed off as mad, and made to live out the rest of her days in a lunatic asylum.
With dreams of paying back the kindness of her adopted family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, Sue begins to pity her helpless mark and care for Maud Lilly in unexpected ways...But no one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and reversals.
From the critics
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Sarah Waters engages the reader in the same acts of defilement that consume her main characters, Sue and Maud. The opening pages are evocative of Oliver Twist, with Sue being presented as the beloved orphan being raised in a den of thieves. Her counterpart, the also-orphaned Maud, has been brought to live with her wealthy, reclusive, scholarly uncle after being raised by nurses in a madhouse. There are early portents of the uncle's unsavory literary interests. In contrast to the craven scheming and exploitation that surrounds them and of which they are both active participants and victims, the sexual attraction that sparks between Maud and Lilly seems like the one bright thing in their dark world. The ending is perhaps a happy one, but I emerged from these 511 pages feeling rather misled about the nature of the book I was getting into.
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