Fingersmith by Sarah Waters


author Sarah Waters published 2002 date start Dec 31, 2022 date read Jan 19, 2023 edition ebook

historical fiction lgbt romance


This is one of many books where I've watched the movie adaptation first before reading the book. To be fair, I've heard of this book way before The Handmaiden but I never really got around to reading it. And even when the movie came out, I still didn't read it until I watched a YouTube video criticizing the movie and its stark difference with the book.

This is not The Handmaiden. I'll try not to compare the two, because it's been years since I last watched the movie, and it was with scuffed English subtitles because I was just so excited to watch the movie that I couldn't wait for proper subtitles to come out--and then I didn't watch it again after that.


So, upon reading this book, I already have a vague idea of all the twists and turns this book is going to take me. Even with that, it was still a very enjoyable ride. And if you've watched the movie, you already know this shit is gonna be real good. It has a bit of a slow start for sure, but that was because I was *itching* for Sue to meet Maud already. I gotta say, I loved Maud's POV more than Sue, only because I related to her character more.

The biggest gripe I had with the story was the third act. Since I read this book with the knowledge of the movie's ending, I had thought it was going to be similar. It was not. It was very, very different and I wouldn't say it was terrible, but it *did* slog. The third act focuses more on the mothers of the two main characters because it's integral to another twist (that wasn't in the movie), and while yes, it is a mind-blowing twist, I just did not care enough about the mothers to want to read about them. I'm like, Who cares? I want Sue and Maud to get back together already! But that's just me.

I think it's also difficult for me to review this book objectively because I have prior knowledge of the movie, and I really love the movie. It's not something that I can just "forget" so I can read the book with an objective lens. It is always going to be there, and whether I like it or not, it will definitely affect my opinion on the book.

Overall, the book and the movie are two different things, and while I loved the movie's take on the ending more, I would not necessarily discount the book. Because the book is genuinely enjoyable to read. I'm a sucker for sapphic romance and yearning, what else can I say?

Here's a few quotes that I liked:

That is all she does; but I see it, and my heart gives a plunge—that caving, or dropping, that has so much panic in it, so much darkness, I supposed it fear, or madness. I watch her turn and stretch, walk her random way about the room—see her make all the careless unstudied gestures I have marked so covetously, so long. Is this desire? How queer that I, of all people, should not know! But I thought desire smaller, neater; I supposed it bound to its own organs as taste is bound to the mouth, vision to the eye. This feeling haunts and inhabits me, like a sickness. It covers me, like skin.

Everything, I say to myself, is changed. I think I was dead, before. Now she has touched the life of me, the quick of me; she has put back my flesh and opened me up. Everything is changed.