I can't remember where I first heard of Fingersmith, but for whatever reason, it has been on my list of books to read for ages. I know that its place was confirmed only after seeing it amongst the titles in 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, but that wasn't where I first heard of this lesbian Gothic novel set in England, circa 1862. The novel is written in three sections and concerns two young women whose lives are drawn to each other in a strange web of intricate plots, though by my earlier labeling, you might also guess that they feel drawn to the other in more complicated ways, too.

I won't discuss the storyline much, because I don't wish to give away anything about the exact plot. I'll drop a few descriptive topics, though. There's a series of twists (the first of which took me off guard but the next few, I felt more prepared for) and the book is full of the classic Gothic novel staples: dark and isolated country homes, orphans without a clue of their real origins, pickpockets, families of thieves, babies fed on gin, cruel uncles, insane asylums, roguish villains, fortunes, etc.

I think I can say with some assurance that I didn't truly love this book -- that is, I wouldn't give this as a gift to any of my girlfriends (and anyway, they might get the wrong end of the stick with the topic of the novel if I were to tell them they simply must read it) -- but I did quite enjoy the experience of reading it. I suppose my quick pace might even merit the term "devour." It's a very compelling as it twists and turns and then doubles back again. In general, I liked the characters that populated this novel, particularly the two main girls. The roguish Gentleman was one-note, though as a writing technique, one doesn't necessarily mind, as we realize his uses and his fate fairly quickly. There was no real reason for Waters to waste her time developing him when the women in the novel were much more interesting. I'm not entirely convinced of the lesbian coupling, but that does appear to be Sarah Waters' focus with a few of her novels.

On the whole, I find myself pleased. I don't know why I'm drawn to Gothic novels in the summer. All this sunshine must unnerve me, or I need to balance reading in a bright park with reading about dark estates. And I'm not entirely sure that I believe this merits a place on the 1001 list (and perhaps might not have gotten that place had it not been for the lesbian storyline), but it was a good read and I certainly don't regret having had it on my list.

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