Book Review: Affinity – Sarah Waters

Title: Affinity
Author: Sarah Waters
ISBN: 9781573228732
Pages: 368
Release Date: January 8, 2002
Publisher: Riverhead
Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

Margaret Prior is a women destined to become a spinster living in the late 1800s in London.  She has experienced loss recently, and as a way to cope, she decides to do charity work at Millbank Prison, a jail (or gaol) for women.  Margaret connects with one of the prisoners, a spiritualist and medium for the dead named Selina Dawes.

Review:

I’ve slowly been working my way through Sarah Waters’ backlist after being blown away by The Little Stranger and Fingersmith, so I was excited to pick up Affinity.  I was looking forward to the historical gothic novel I’ve come to know and love from Sarah Waters.

I’m going to preface my review by saying that it irks me when Sarah Waters’ books are referred to as “lesbian novels.”  Yes, there is usually some element of lesbian love in Sarah Waters’ books, whether overt or implied (I’m assuming here – I haven’t read all of her books yet).  But saying they are lesbian books trivializes them.  They’re usually about lonely women looking for some sort of connection in their miserable lives and they happen to find it with another woman.  It doesn’t mean that women who aren’t lesbians can’t identify with the characters or stories, nor does it mean there will be graphic lesbian scenes in the books.  End rant.

Margaret is a sad main character, forsaken by her former lover and utterly lonely.  At first, the reader cheers when they see that she is connecting with Selina, that she may once again find some happiness, even if the object of Margaret’s affection is in prison.  But as the novel unfolds and the reader begins to learn more about Selina, things become uncertain.  The reader isn’t sure of whom to trust, even if Margaret places her faith in Selina completely.

This is a novel of deceptions, of sleights of hand, of quiet whispers and Sarah Waters writes it incredibly well.  The whole book has a haunting, gothic quality that fans of the genre will adore.  Her writing is lyrical and beautiful, yet very powerful.  It’s a moody, contemplative novel that will hook readers from beginning to end.

Affinity was an intriguing read and I really enjoyed it.  Though I must admit that The Little Stranger is still my first love when it comes to Sarah Waters, Affinity was incredibly written and beautiful, and I can’t wait to read more of Waters’ work.

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Comments

  1. I haven’t read any of Waters’ work, but do want to try it. It sounds like I should start with The Little Stranger.

  2. I haven’t read any of Waters’ work, but do want to try it. It sounds like I should start with The Little Stranger.

  3. I’ve meant to read some of this author’s book for a long time. I’ve heard so much praise for her. Now, I really need to do it! LOL

  4. I’ve meant to read some of this author’s book for a long time. I’ve heard so much praise for her. Now, I really need to do it! LOL

  5. The Little Stranger was my first too (oh, and the audio is incredible with Simon Vance at the helm) but Fingersmith is equally awesome. I loved Affinity, but it is definitely more subtle than the other two. At this point, reading Waters is an experience like no other. I only have Tipping the Velvet left to read…gotta do this slowly or else I’ll have nothing else to look forward to. Wish she would write faster!

  6. The Little Stranger was my first too (oh, and the audio is incredible with Simon Vance at the helm) but Fingersmith is equally awesome. I loved Affinity, but it is definitely more subtle than the other two. At this point, reading Waters is an experience like no other. I only have Tipping the Velvet left to read…gotta do this slowly or else I’ll have nothing else to look forward to. Wish she would write faster!

  7. I’m glad to see you are working your way through her works. I have The Little Stranger and Affinity on my bookshelf, both (alas) unread. I’ll have to get to them soon!

  8. I’m glad to see you are working your way through her works. I have The Little Stranger and Affinity on my bookshelf, both (alas) unread. I’ll have to get to them soon!

  9. How funny–I just picked this one up last night! I am only about thirty pages in but I am definitely intrigued.

  10. How funny–I just picked this one up last night! I am only about thirty pages in but I am definitely intrigued.

  11. After reading Fingersmith a few years ago, I went out and bought all of Waters’ novels and have been collecting the new ones too. I do hope to get the chance to read them soon, as they all sound excellent. I am glad that you enjoyed this one, and look forward to reading The Little Stranger soon as well. Great review, Swapna!

  12. After reading Fingersmith a few years ago, I went out and bought all of Waters’ novels and have been collecting the new ones too. I do hope to get the chance to read them soon, as they all sound excellent. I am glad that you enjoyed this one, and look forward to reading The Little Stranger soon as well. Great review, Swapna!

  13. I totally agree with your rant! Sarah Waters is a brilliant writer. Period.

  14. I totally agree with your rant! Sarah Waters is a brilliant writer. Period.

  15. This is the first book that I’ve read by this author but it definitely won’t be my last. I found it a bit slow in the beginning but before I knew it I was hooked and couldn’t put it down. And I loved the atmosphere that the author created! Great review.

  16. This is the first book that I’ve read by this author but it definitely won’t be my last. I found it a bit slow in the beginning but before I knew it I was hooked and couldn’t put it down. And I loved the atmosphere that the author created! Great review.

  17. I started Affinity but couldn’t get into it. I loved Fingersmtih though. Maybe I’ll try The Little Stranger…

  18. I started Affinity but couldn’t get into it. I loved Fingersmtih though. Maybe I’ll try The Little Stranger…

  19. I loved this book! I haven’t read The Little Stranger yet, but I hope I like it as much as you did. I agree with you about pigeonholing these books as “lesbian” reads. They’re much more about the connection between two people than about romance of any sort.

  20. I loved this book! I haven’t read The Little Stranger yet, but I hope I like it as much as you did. I agree with you about pigeonholing these books as “lesbian” reads. They’re much more about the connection between two people than about romance of any sort.

  21. I agree with your rant! It does pigeonhole her in a way that does her a grave disservice and might even stop people from reading her books.

  22. I agree with your rant! It does pigeonhole her in a way that does her a grave disservice and might even stop people from reading her books.

  23. I have this book on my ipad waiting to be read and after your review, I’m thinking of starting it ASAP. I have been really falling in love more and more with the gothic genre and I’m thinking that another gothic read is just what I need.

  24. I have this book on my ipad waiting to be read and after your review, I’m thinking of starting it ASAP. I have been really falling in love more and more with the gothic genre and I’m thinking that another gothic read is just what I need.

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