Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Stalking Sarah Waters

So maybe not stalking exactly, but I've become highly interested in Sarah Waters' work all of a sudden. Several weeks ago, I discovered that B&N has a video podcast I can access through Apple TV, and I watched an interview with Waters dealing largely with her latest book, The Little Stranger.

To preface this post a little more, I've heard NOTHING but really wonderful things about Waters' work. I really have no frackin' clue why I haven't read any of her stuff beyond the fact that her books are ALWAYS checked out of my library. ALWAYS. It's crazy to me that years-old books still have holds on them. It must be proof positive that I'm missing something really good.

Now that I've decided to read Waters' work, I'm torn as to how I want to go about it. Should I be systematic and start from the beginning? Should I jump into the book that appeals to me most?

Looking over her catalog of material, Affinity definitely grabs me the most. Of course, I've been bowled over by all the praise for Fingersmith and Tipping the Velvet, but from a purely premise-based judgement, I REALLY wanna read Affinity. The very short blurb that grabs me by the hair:
From the dark heart of a Victorian prison, disgraced spiritualist Selina Dawes weaves an enigmatic spell. Is she a fraud, or a prodigy? By the time it all begins to matter, you'll find yourself desperately wanting to believe in magic.
 Right ON! Sounds creepylicious and intriguing. Furthermore, I admit to having sort of a fascination with prisons. While that sounds completely weird, it's just true. Old prisons, new prisons, open prisons, derelict prisons. If there's a prison show: Ghost Hunters investigation, National Geographic expose, I'm there. When I was watching the Waters interview and heard "prison," my ears perked up. A Victorian women's prison??? Even better! How often do we get to read about those!

I suppose my fascination with prisons comes from a long line of movies and TV--some fiction, some non. While prisons hold the seediest, most dangerous members of our society, they are a mixed bag of evil and kindness, deprivation and rehabilitation. Movies like The Shawshank Redemption have certainly had some bearing on my fascination. Beyond that, documentary series like National Geographic's Lockdown have also fed my interest in recent years.

At this point I think I've pretty much talked myself into purchasing Affinity for my Nook, but I still want to know which of Sarah Waters' books would you recommend to start?


  1. Love. I read Affinity a few months ago and reviewed it (without spoilers) if you want to check it out.

    I think it would be a great starting point, and I would save Fingersmith for last. To me, it's her greatest, but the others are still really really good.


  2. You've TOTALLY picked the best one first - I LOVE Affinity! As for approaching the rest, I think that Waters' work very clearly divides in two - the Victorian stuff and the mid-20th century stuff so it depends what you are in the mood for, I think. If you want romps and gothic pastiches - then the early stuff may be a more fun way in - then you can get really stuck into the more thinky ones like The Night Watch. Also, the BBC adaptations are freaking awesome, and an excellent way to nurture your new obsession.

  3. I haven't read Affinity yet (I have to wait until I've forgotten enough about the film version :)), but I can put in a good word for Fingersmith and The Little Stranger.

  4. I haven't read anything by Waters yet but now I want to read Affinity! It definitely says something about her writing if there's still a ton of holds for her books. Maybe an Affinity read-along?

  5. I have been reading Affinity in between all the other commitments that I've been scheduled to read/review lately - I would have finished it by now if it weren't for those obligations. I downloaded it on my Nook Color and I absolutely love it so far!

  6. Picky, I will definitely check out your review! Love your advice about saving the best for last. :)

    Lyndsey, YAY! I'm even more excited to read it now. I'm definitely in the mood for the gothic. I usually don't read much Victorian or neo-Victorian or Victorian retold or whatever you want to call it. However, it's a big interest this year for some reason!

    Mindy, I haven't seen any of the films either, so that gives me something else to discover. :) The Little Stranger would probably be my second pick. Her interview about that book was really thoughtful.

    Natasha, YESSSSS!!!! Let's read along! I'm totally dying to read along!

    Natalie, you're one of my inspirations, actually. After I listened to her interview I read your blog and the cover imprinted on my brain. lol

  7. Sad to say I have only read one so far. So I can highly recommend Fingersmith but Affinity sounds awfully intriguing too.

  8. Fingersmith! (but I haven't read Affinity...I'd be up for a readalong, too)

    I'm one of the few people that didn't care for The Little Stranger. Actually, that's not really true...I still loved her writing, I just didn't think it was very creepy.

  9. I've only read Affinity and Fingersmith, and I don't think you can go wrong with which one you start with- I kind of think it's one of those situations in which the one you read first is the one you like better.

    I also have her Night Watch on the shelf, so if you plan to read that... I could do a buddy read with you later :-)

  10. I confess I have not read any of Sarah Waters either but really, really want to do so soon. I have two of her novels but just never pick them up. Now, if I had it on my Nook, then it may be more tempting. I can see a new purchase for Anne soon. I can't wait to see what your thoughts are on AFFINITY!

  11. Thanks, Kathleen! If I like her as much as everyone else seems to, I think I'll be working steadily through her catalog. :)

    Wow, Jill! It sounds REALLY creepy from the descriptions I've read, but then again, sometimes these things just don't live up. I have to say, I've heard more mixed reviews of The Little STranger than any of her other books. And I'll be putting that readalong together straight away!

    Aarti, I would love to buddy read The Night Watch with you later!

    Michelle, is Affinity one of the choices on your shelves?? I'm putting together a readalong! lol

  12. Estella - Affinity is not one of them, but I may be convinced to add it! ;)


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