Sarah Waters “Affinity”  » Books  »
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  • This is also related to my only beef with the novel - the surprise ending might not satisfy everyone, even though it's probably the best one
  • Sarah Waters does excellent foreshadowing, which most likely would have been insufficient to make me guess everything in advance, while being just right for that pleasant Eureka moment so that I could have enjoyed seeing how logical the conclusion I never reached is
  • I don't think older novels are spoiler-y for the newer as much as the opposite
  • I would recommend her novels to those enjoying lesbian romance fiction (although - be warned - happy ends are highly optional

    • by Rachel Evans
      TRUSTWORTHY

      all reviews
      Sarah Waters’s second so-called neo-Victorian novel takes place in two - or perhaps even three - spaces of confinement: namely, London’s Milbank prison for women; one of the protagonist’s Victorian household, where a despotic mother treats her with mind-altering drugs to manage her depression, which had resulted in a failed suicide attempt; finally, the society itself, imprinting itself on the very bodies of the heroines.

      As usual with Waters, nothing can be taken for granted. Characters’ motivations remain unclear, though in the end, every step is explained and logically sequenced. The big reveal is


      famously a shocker, surprising the readers with a partly Dickensian and partly thriller-like twist.

      I quite enjoy Waters’s fiction: the setting is always exquisit, as is her characterisation of the heroines and, perhaps most importantly, her manner of describing lesbian desire. She is perhaps the most convincing writer I’ve ever encountered when it comes to writing about sensual longing; she manages to convey the pains of the first love and those of yearning for half-imagined contact.

      Waters’s characters, however, may not be exactly relatable. Neither her naive narrators, nor their objects of desire are exactly likeable; even if they manage to inspire some sympathy, they remain alienated and distant, perhaps intentionally. This is also related to my only beef with the novel - the surprise ending might not satisfy everyone, even though it’s probably the best one.

      I have to say, however, that reading one Waters’s novel may seemingly ruin others for a perceptive bookworm; her twists seem to follow a similar pattern, at least in her Victoriana; having previously read “Fingersmith”, I managed to catch almost all the clues in the plot of “Affinity”, and predicted ...


      • Sarah Waters
      the outcome with a large degree of accuracy. Sarah Waters does excellent foreshadowing, which most likely would have been insufficient to make me guess everything in advance, while being just right for that pleasant Eureka moment so that I could have enjoyed seeing how logical the conclusion I never reached is; however, having already read the more complicated “Fingersmith”, I was warned.

      I suppose that, quite simply, it pays to read Waters chronologically, from her older to her newest novels, so that her development allows for some surprises; I don’t think older novels

      are spoiler-y for the newer as much as the opposite; therefore, I’m definitely going to read “Nightwatch” before “The Little Stranger” - since, even if I’ll be without the element of surprise, Sarah Waters is quite simply an excellent, engrossing storyteller whose tales I enjoy and want more of.

      I would recommend her novels to those enjoying lesbian romance fiction (although - be warned - happy ends are highly optional!), afficionados of Victoriana pieces with a distinctly Dickensian voice (if not sensibility) and anyone who likes a well-written, long and engrossing period novel with women protagonists.




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The review was published as it's written by reviewer in July, 2010. The reviewer certified that no compensation was received from the reviewed item producer, trademark owner or any other institution, related with the item reviewed. The site is not responsible for the mistakes made. 175071178300231/k2311a075/7.5.10
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