Saturday, October 16, 2010

SM5S: Affinity by Sarah Waters

A fun way to add variety to review formats this meme was created by Alipet at That's A Novel Idea.

Jenners at Life...With Books has the Mr Linky each week so we can share our posts .

1 book I read:   Affinity by Sarah Waters
2 words that describe the book: Victorian spiritualism
3 settings and/or characters I met:
  • The setting is London in the 1870's.
  • Margaret Prior is a sad and lonely young woman. She has lost her lover who has now married her brother and her beloved father whose work she shared has died. She becomes a prison visitor with the intention of writing about Millbank Prison and its inmates.
  • Selina Dawes is a disgraced medium, sent to prison for five years after a woman died following one of her seances.
4 things I liked/disliked about the book:
  • While I didn't like what I was reading the look inside a woman's prison was interesting. Some of the crimes were so petty they didn't seem to warrant such a punishment and the treatment of the women was cruel and totally lacking in compassion. It also reflects the very restricted lives of all women of that time.
  • I enjoyed Selina's accounts of her work as a medium. Spiritualism underwent a huge revival after 1850 and many Victorians consulted mediums and attended seances .
  • I love Sarah Waters writing - it's vivid and imaginative and the atmosphere she creates with her imagery is as dark and heavy as the subject...
'There have come fogs, too-yellow fogs and brown fogs, and fogs so black they might be liquid soot-fogs that seem to rise from the pavements as if brewed in the sewers in diabolical engines.'
  • At one point I decided that Affinity was going to be different from her other books I'd read - centred more on the relationship of Margaret and Selina and how they would overcome the difficulties facing them. I really should have known better because the diabolically clever Sarah Waters sucked me right and I was totally unprepared for the was devastating!!
5 Stars or less for my rating.

4 Stars for Affinity................for me it didn't quite measure up to either Fingersmith or The Little Stranger but it's still very, very good.


  1. I really, really liked Fingersmith, and Affinity intrigues me.

  2. I am half way thru the Little Stranger right now...
    this sounds like her "story" (not her writing) is lessening as she writes more books.?

  3. Reviews for this are quite mixed but it sounds completely up my street.

  4. Jessica - I've noticed the same mixed responses to The Little Stranger so I think this is an author some like/some don;t - I do!

    Stephanie - I'm sure you'd like this too but not quite so much perhaps.

    DesLily - No, I don't think so. The Little Stranger was her last book and I thought it was great. This one is just a little different in comparison.

  5. I want to read this one badly--I love Sarah Waters, especially when it comes to her novels set in Victorian England!

  6. So far, I've only read "Fingersmith" but I have "A Little Stranger" to try next. She does seem to come up with some involving and different story lines.

  7. I actually was supposed to have read this by now. I just haven't had a chance. I am looking forward to some Waters, though!

  8. Devastating is exactly the word I would use too. I'm looking forward to re-reading 'Fingersmith' again. I loved both 'The Little Stranger' and especially 'The Night Watch'. Waters is such a beautiful writer.