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Book Review: Fingersmith

by | Jun 14, 2023 | Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, LGBTQ+

Rating: 5/5 stars
Age Rating: 16+

If you are looking for a thrilling read that you won’t want to put down, you must check out Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. This novel takes us back to Victorian England, presenting a fascinating world of thieves and damsels, full of deceit and a plot that will keep you constantly guessing.

When I first started reading Fingersmith, I was drawn in by a story unlike any I’d read before. The book has surprising secrets and twists that add depth to the storyline. It explores important themes like social class, gender roles, and the struggle for power, all within the well-researched setting of the Victorian era. At the heart of the book is a captivating love story that kept me hooked from the first page to the last.

The love story raises important questions about the true meaning of love and the limits of loyalty. This book made a lasting impact on me, and I’m sure it’ll do the same for you. If you enjoy historical fiction, mysteries, or simply a well-written story that explores deep human emotions, I can’t recommend “Fingersmith” enough. With that, let’s dive into this Fingersmith book review! 


Fingersmith is set in Victorian England and tells the story of Sue Trinder, a young orphan raised in a den of thieves known as “fingersmiths.” Her story takes a thrilling turn with the arrival of Gentleman Richard Rivers, an eloquent con man who presents Sue with a captivating scheme. 

The plan involves Sue infiltrating the household of a naïve gentlewoman, Maud Lilly, as her maid, facilitating her seduction by Gentleman, and helping him secure Maud’s immense inheritance. Once this is achieved, the intention is to have Maud committed to a lunatic asylum, paving the way for splitting her inheritance among the schemers.

Sue embarks on this mission with hopes of repaying the kindness of her adopted family, only to find her allegiances shifting as she grows to care for the unsuspecting Maud in unforeseen ways. As the plot unfolds, it becomes clear that nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian tale filled with surprising twists and reversals.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous has been causing waves in the literary world, and rightfully so. Told through the lens of a mother-son relationship, this book comments on love, family, identity, and the immigrant experience. Ocean Vuong is certainly making his mark, pushing boundaries with his unique style and bold storytelling.

I hope you enjoy the prose and riveting narrative and encourage a dialogue about the experiences the book explores. This narrative underscores the power of words and their ability to make us feel the beauty and fragility of our shared human experience.

My Review

Fingersmith is truly like no other book I’ve read. It’s not only a thriller but also a tender, unexpected love story. The narrative unfolds in Victorian England—a time of significant societal changes—and we find ourselves immersed in a vividly painted world that seems to come alive right off the pages.

I was given a glimpse into the shadowy realms of crime in Victorian England, a society marked by strict class hierarchy and predefined roles for women. It was a harsh contrast to the romanticized images often associated with this era. It was not a tale of docile ladies and courteous gentlemen. Instead, it was gritty and raw, presenting us with characters as real as the world they inhabit. The way Waters handles complex themes like social class, gender roles, and power dynamics is particularly striking.

As I dove deeper, I became engrossed in Sue and Maud’s struggles against societal expectations. Their burgeoning relationship felt heart-wrenching and tender, raising poignant questions about love, loyalty, and the lengths one could go to for their desires. 

Fingersmith felt like a rollercoaster ride with its unexpected plot twists and turns. Every time I thought I had the narrative figured out, a surprise would leave me reeling. The suspense was palpable, making it impossible to put the book down. I was struck by the perfect balance Waters achieved between the romance and mystery elements, creating a compelling narrative that kept me guessing till the end.

Fingersmith never ceased to fascinate, shock, and touch me. It’s a fantastic mix of history and mystery, with a story that grabs your attention and doesn’t let go. The surprises in the plot, combined with Waters’ beautiful writing, make it a book you won’t want to put down. Whether you’re a fan of historical fiction, mystery, or engaging love stories, this book will have you hooked.

If you found this review helpful, you can check out the book at Bookshop.org here and support local bookstores along the way!