I've read The Little Stranger and Night Watch, both by Sarah Waters, and was mesmerized. And everyone that has reviewed Fingersmith has been mesmerized. So there were some high expectations involved here, and I was a little nervous. Not to worry, however. From the moment I sat down to read Fingersmith, I was dumbstruck. I was infatuated. I was stunned. The intrigue! The plot twists! The writing! The Victorian atmosphere! I needed resuscitated when I was finished.
Nymeth (Things Mean Alot) says that the first rule of The Fingersmith Club is that you shan't talk about it. And I understand why, I do. It is a house of mirrors. But I at least need to say enough to lure people to read it. So I shall be brief.
Susan Trinder has been raised her entire life in Victorian London by a ragtag group of thieves assimilating a dysfunctional family. One day, a thief acquaintance arrives at their door, proposing a scheme. He and Susan will befriend a young heiress, Maud Lilly (Susan will become her maid, he will become her boyfriend). He will marry Maud, and they will make off with her money, and commit her to an insane asylum. But as they will, things don't go quite as planned. And there I will stop. Have I protected the goods? I think so.
Waters is a master. She could make tax code interesting with her brilliant storytelling and her compelling prose. This story is riveting and beautiful and haunting. It made such an impact on me, I couldn't walk away from it just yet. I had to see the movie, a BBC production.
The movie was a BBC production, with a running time of 3 hours. Most of the actors are unknown, with two exceptions. Mrs. Sucksby is played by Imelda Staunton, who is delightful as always. Susan is played by Sally Hawkins, a British actress best known for her lead role in Happy-Go-Lucky. The casting, based on my mind's eye, worked well (Susan could have been just a wee bit cuter, but there you go. She had a rough life, after all.) The writers of the screenplay and director are obviously Waters admirers, as the production is very true to the story...there was no embellishment for the sake of a thrill. The sets were magnificent, depicting the beauty of the gothic Briar estate, and the squalor of inner city London.
Did I like it? I did, immensely! However, if you've read anything by Waters, you know the beauty of her story lies within the words and the writing. I'm not sure any movie ever adapted from a Waters novel could ever quite have the same...essence. If you are a fan of the story, though, you won't be sorry.
Book: 5 out of 5 stars
Movie: 4 out of 5 stars