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Affinity

Narrated by: Juanita McMahon
Length: 14 hrs and 58 mins
Categories: Fiction, Gay & Lesbian
4 out of 5 stars (224 ratings)

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Summary

Set in and around the women's prison at Milbank in the 1870's, Affinity is an eerie and utterly compelling ghost story, a complex and intriguing literary mystery, and a poignant love story with an unexpected twist in the tale.

Following the death of her father, Margaret Prior has decided to pursue some 'good work' with the lady criminals of one of London's most notorious gaols. Surrounded by prisoners, murderers, and common thieves, Margaret feels herself drawn to one of the prison's more unlikely inmates - the imprisoned spiritualist Selina Dawes.

Sympathetic to the plight of this innocent-seeming girl, Margaret sees herself dispensing guidance and perhaps friendship on her visits, little expecting to find herself dabbling in a twilight world of seances, shadows, unruly spirits, and unseemly passions.

©1999 Sarah Waters (P)1999 W F Howes Ltd

Critic reviews

"Spooky, spellbinding, exquisitely written . . . I do believe Waters is on the way to becoming a major literary star" (Val Hennessy)
"Indeed, this is such a brilliant writer that her readers would believe anything she told them" (A. N. Wilson, Daily Mail)
"Refined, repressed and simmering . . . a delicious tale of Victorian spiritualism" (Mel Steel, Independent on Sunday)
What members say
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Slow going at first but speeds up well.

Yet another frustrated spinster is the heroine of this book until she finds a project to occupy her time by becoming a prison visitor. In the prison she comes under the spell of a prisoner called 'Dawes' and gradually she is drawn into the world of spiritism. As the story unfolds we understand that 'Aurora' had been in love with her brother's wife and had suffered a nervous breakdown from disappointed expectations. This has led her mother to treat her with various opiates. I think the historical detail is wonderful and the Victorian world recreated in a most convincing fashion. I don't know whether it is the pace of the narrator's reading which gave me the impression of a rather slow moving story through the first part of the book. It did seem to be slightly tedious at times. However the pace really picked up in the second part and the ending was marvellous. The debunking of the spiritism was very well done indeed. In spite of the slow start I would reccommend this book as it is a very enjoyable read on the whole.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Immensely enjoyable

Wonderful writing and brilliantly acted. The narrator has a fine skill for different character voices. Sarah Waters' novels are always excellent and this is no exception.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

The in improbable made readable

I found that despite my misgivings of the setting, it was a worthwhile read.
Nothing explicit, very romantic, but enjoyable

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Heart - melting Twist!

Affinity is on my Masters reading list, and I decided to get the audiobook and save myself some time trying to fit the reading into my day - really worth it. MacMahon has a real knack for finding each character's voice, and really brings Waters's words to life - going to have to take some time to process that ending though!

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

So interesting and a great twist

I really enjoyed this book, although the twist wasn't that unexpected, it still made me gasp. I loved the readingn, I thought it was well done and did the story justice.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Claustrophobic Spooky Thrills

This novel is dense and full of the neurotic daydreams and fantasies of the troubled main characters.

It takes place in Autumn and Winter so best to read it when the nights are drawing in, wrapped up on the sofa!!!

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Given up

I normally love Sarah Waters' work but I was really bored of this book. It's so slow and I can't work out where it's going at all. I may try to listen to it again in the future and I will review accordingly!
As always, Juanita McMahon is faultless as a narrator.

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    1 out of 5 stars

disappointing

set in 1870 or therebouts, this is the story of a depressed woman who starts visiting a womens prison. she is depressed because she has been separated from the woman she loves, social and parental pressure etc, nothing new to say there.
the inevitable happens, she becomes enamoured with a woman prisoner who claims to be a spiritualist.
nothing new to say there either, of course the prisoner is a fraud and tricks her to help her escape.
woman (i think) commits suicide.
none of the above are spoilers as everything can be seen a mile off, in fact we are told the spiritualist cons people out of money and has a sidekick called peter quick (ref turn of the screw) who coerces women into sex.
i have no idea why sarah waters was so lazy here. the story wouldve been so much better had she upped the supernatural element and made the spiritualist real.
i was also waiting for the tale to be interspersed with a contemporary voice and parallel tale linked back in some way. this would ve been much better.
as it stands we have a dull, drawn out and depressing piece of writing with irritating old style prose that goes on and on, not going anywhere, and with nothing much happening and no surprises or reveals,
save your credit. really. chose another book.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

gripping story.

raced to the finish. loved it. waters brings to life Victorian women's prison. master storyteller. McMahon reads beautifully.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A good read well read.

Sarah Waters is getting to be a great storyteller and writer. Her best book yet. She only made one mistake that I could find & that was her. Mention of plastic. The narrator made the book even more extra special. All smoldering, repressed passion.