Released: October 2002
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 558 Pages
My Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
It’s was yet another stormy weekend here in the UK but I was one of the lucky ones who wasn’t constantly worried about floods and landslides. So, I spent my weekend pent up at home, baking a lemon meringue pie and reading this deliciously rich Victorian set novel.
This book has everything. Complex characters, intriguing settings, dark twists and a lesbian romance. What more could you possibly want for a rainy weekend read?
Set in mid-19th century, Sue, an orphan who was brought up in a shop run by thieves and criminals, is given a propostition to trick the money out of a naive and isolated heiress.
You might be wondering how this is similar to Parasite. Well, it may not be a South Korean best picture winner but it does follow a similar story of money and hidden identities. In both, the impoverished main characters use their talent in scheming to exploit the wealth out of the rich. They infiltrate their homes and gain their trust, whilst lying to them about who they are and why they’re there.
This book is over 500 pages but keeps you reading with a number of plot twists you won’t see coming. It really was so unpredictable and probably the most unique historical fiction novel I’ve ever read. It features a lesbian romance and Victorian pornography (which is an actual thing apparently) and I loved every minute of it.
The thing I love most about this book is that not one of the characters are black and white. Real to life they all have a bit of good and evil in them and each of their actions and reasonings behind those actions are complex. I loved seeing their morals tested and seeing them grow throughout the book.
Waters brings Victorian England to life. The gothic buildings, asylums and criminal London underground gives you a full sense of life in England in the 1860’s. It’s large cast and settings make it feel like a Victorian novel, but it’s language and risky content of sexuality and eroticism make it like no other Victorian novel I’ve ever read.
You can tell Sarah must have done a lot research on Victorian England because there is so much detail that is true to life and it makes for a very immersive reading experiance. I can also see how she must have been influeced by writers of the time such as Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins
Would I Read Again: Yes
Would I Recommend: Yes