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  • Fingersmith

  • By: Sarah Waters
  • Narrated by: Juanita McMahon
  • Length: 23 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (1,322 ratings)

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Editor reviews

Fingersmith is the dazzling audiobook written by Sarah Waters and narrated by the ever-popular Juanita McMahon. This is the enigmatic story of the fingersmith’s, working their way through the pockets and purses of 1862 London. It is a curious look at their lives told through the eyes of a young girl growing up among them. She has been unwittingly set on a path since her birth that is as mysterious as the family who care for her and the young orphan living nearby that she can't help but feel a connection with. This story is enchanting as much as it is suspenseful. Available now from Audible.

Summary

London 1862: Sue Trinder, orphaned at birth, grows up among petty thieves - fingersmiths - under the rough but loving care of Mrs Sucksby and her 'family'. But from the moment she draws breath, Sue's fate is linked to that of another orphan growing up in a gloomy mansion not too many miles away.

©2002 Sarah Waters (P)2002 W F Howes Ltd

Critic reviews

"Sarah Waters is one of the best storytellers alive today " Matt Thorne, ( Independent on Sunday)
"Intensely atmospheric, impeccably paced, and cunningly structured, this is that rarity in contemporary fiction: a deeply serious novel that is also a thumping great read" Douglas Kennedy, ( Mail on Sunday)

What listeners say about Fingersmith

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Brilliant!

If you could sum up Fingersmith in three words, what would they be?

clever, gripping, enjoyable

What does Juanita McMahon bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

She is one of the best narrators I have listened too (and I have listened to 1000's of audiobooks) she really brought all the characters to life and has a beautiful voice. I wlll be buying more books narrated by her!

Any additional comments?

I have listened to all Sarah Waters books now and all are absolutely brilliant, and coupled with such an excellent narrator they make very gripping reads! I thoroughly recommend!

21 people found this helpful

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Very well read, brilliant story.

Lovely listen, fantastic reader, gripping storyline. Overall, time well spent. If you want a book representative of Victorian England, this is definitely worth it!

17 people found this helpful

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Intriguing, surprising and engaging story

I’ve only recently discovered this fine novelist through reading her book The Paying Guests. Fingersmith is an earlier novel but has the same strengths of strong characterisation, pacy story with surprises along the way.

The narrator is outstandingly good as she made the book sound more like a drama as she brought the various players to life with her fine ability to create different voices.

12 people found this helpful

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Excellent narration of very good novel

This was the first Sarah Waters book I have read, chosen because recent newspaper reviews deemed it one of her best. There certainly was much to like: an original plot, convincing central characters and a definite Dickensian quality to the cast of minor crooks, liars and perverts.

It is generally a well paced novel and the narrator does an excellent job of sustaining atmosphere.

Recommended , particularly for those who want a longer listen.

9 people found this helpful

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Perfect.

Just brilliant.
I loved the narrator who brought the characters to life.
The story was very Dickensian and completely unpredictable.

9 people found this helpful

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beautifully written, beautifully read

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I think this to be Sarah Waters finn st book to date, her amazing descriptions of Victorian London and asylum life are so vivid and the fast paced plot carries you on an amazing journey. Exploring the fragile nature of identites based on ones ancestors and the mutability of human nature, how two main characters change and grown through the story. It is a great book, beautifuly written

What did you like best about this story?

The opening descriptions of the house in london.

12 people found this helpful

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  • M
  • 02-12-15

Olivia Twist

As I listened to the first few chapters, my initial thoughts were pessimistic. A couple of Artful Dodgers attending an actual play of Oliver Twist? Unsubtle, I grumbled. Returning to the Fagin-esque inhabitants of the robber's den? Uninspired, I huffed.

But then the plot started to thicken.

This is a dual-perspective tale of deception set in a fairly clichéd Victorian London and the countryside nearby. The main character, Sue, is a fingersmith, brought up in the poorer part of London to a hodgepodge family of thieves and swindlers. As the hallowed 'scam to make their fortunes' is plotted, Sue finds herself learning how to be maid to a lady, her co-protagonist, Maud.

To reveal more would be a disservice, as the twists and turns throughout are part of what make this tale so enjoyable. The characters, while dredging Victorian conventions, are a colourful bunch and I loved and hated my way through them. Juanita McMahon's narration is superb, if a little "gor blimey gov'nor", and she creates an absorbing atmosphere with emotionally powerful characters.

At almost 24 hours, however, Fingersmith is slightly too long, and at times I did let frustration spoil my constant enjoyment when arguments went over the same ground, over and over (Maud, I'm looking at you). But this is a fairly minor criticism as by the end I found myself not wanting to leave Waters' world and I'll happily return for a revisit in the future.

5 people found this helpful

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very enjoyable!

I couldn't stop listening! Great story and a brilliant narrator. Accessible Dickens, gripping and well paced for a good, long listen.

9 people found this helpful

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Absolutely brilliant!

I love this book. Whether it's as a paper copy or Audio. Fantastic twists and turns

3 people found this helpful

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Brilliant!

My favourite book... I read it when it was first published: this Audible version is fabulous. Wonderful narration.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Melinda Weed
  • 31-03-22

A struggle

Well-written and poorly structured. Dragged on to the point that I finished it out of spite. The quality of the language is the only reason I continued.

I've been trying to read/listen to this for years based on good reviews and recs but never got very far. got COVID so finally just put it on and got through.

The reader does a good job, no complaints there.

The characters were neither very interesting nor sympathetic. I don't require characters to be both, but if you're rooting for no one in a book this long, it'd be nice to at least know why you should be invested in their stories. Nobody had a personality beyond Cackling Evil, Eternally Conflicted or Purposely Bland.

I hate Liar Revealed as a trope and this is a book with layers on layers of it.

There were also a number of disturbing passages that edged from commentary on mental illness in Victorian England to gratuitousness. these would have been, well, fine isn't really the word for it, but felt less exploitative if the characters felt like they developed because of their experiences.

My biggest issues with the books were not understanding anyone's motivations and the twist upon twist making it feel almost farcical. the first twist wasn't especially surprising but it was still good. It makes little sense, though, and goes from an already overcomplicated plot to something ridiculous and nonsensical. character motivation being unclear made this issue worse.

The book spends a third of the time repeating itself from a slightly different perspective, which was unnecessary and tiring.

Halfway through, I just read a synopsis. I finished listening mostly because I didn't want to have a half listened book banging around in my library.

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  • Bonn Karla
  • 20-07-21

Beautifully Woven. The Power of Elite Writing

I love Sarah Waters and her writings. They’re all filled with melancholy, longing, and wits. I’ve read the book more than a decade ago, and I was amazed by how well crafted the point of views are. It created the visuals of what was truly going on. It was a perfect tool to use, because it is a reality that no one really knows anyone. The twists and turns are enhanced by how beautifully woven the writing is.

Also here, the main characters falling in love was both a hindrance and a solace. It created conflicts on their resolves and choices. Their difficulties though, were heavily affected by the machinations and the worth of the people around them.

Juanita McMahon gave great vocal impressions for our heroines, and I think, they fit perfectly.

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  • David
  • 08-08-20

Not brilliant.

I found this title when looking for recommended historic fiction in the same vein as Hilary Mantel. There was nothing in this information or in the precis here that let me know that this was queer fiction. Some rather ridiculous plot twists and flowery prose which probably listened better than it read. Set in the Dickens era but certainly this ain't no Dickens.

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  • Nicole
  • 03-08-20

Well crafted story, excellent narrator.

I loved the story and the way the tension was kept up all the way