Thursday, April 2, 2009

Affinity by Sarah Waters

I read this for my lesbian book club.

Set in England during the 1800's, the main character, after her father's death and her own attempt at suicide, is sentenced, in a way, to community service visiting women at a local prison. If she were not a lady of her position, she would in fact be joining the women of lesser class in her own cell at the prison. As it is, the well off main character becomes entranced by one female criminal in particular, who is charged with the murder of her own benefactress. The beautiful creature is a spiritualist, one who claims to communicate with spirits. She has a ghost benefactor as well, who goes by the name of Peter Quick. He is a rather randy fellow - during her sceances he made moves on the ladies who attended and made fun of the men.

The main character falls in love with the inmate, and the situation soon becomes one that pits them both against the prison, with its wardens and rules, and, if their plan is realized, against the world at large. The main character is willing to leave behind her family, especially her demanding and critical mother, and including her silly and frilly sister, even her first love, now her sister-in-law, sacrificing her whole inheritance in order to be with the woman she passionately loves.

At issue are popular 19th century drugs, family relations, servants, social policy and women's prisons of the period, views on the occult and, obviously, love between two women.

Members of my book club declared that once they had finished, they wanted to read it again. The first two thirds of the book are slow, but still interesting, and the last third speeds up with a great deal of suspension to drive you along. It's just a book that, after you have read the conclusion, you want to go back and read it again so that you can see things you didn't see on the first reading.

Read it and read it again. There's also a movie. - 4 stars


Ana S. said...

I've just recently finished Fingersmith, and I think I'm in love with Sarah Waters. I have the feeling I'll be ordering this book very soon.

Kailana said...

I seriously need to read more from Sarah Waters! I have only read one book by her so far and I really liked it, so you'd think I would read more!

Amanda said...

I've never read anything by Sarah Waters. I might have to check her out.