Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

About the book

Set in 1860s London, this is the story of Susan, a pickpocket who is persuaded to pose as a lady’s maid and infiltrate the house of a young heiress. This novel explores the nature of identity and what people do with disguise.

Reviewed by Hayling Readers Group

Nominated for both the Orange and Booker prizes in 2002 this dark, compelling read set in Victorian times tells the story of two young women. Though brought up in very different circumstances their lives become firmly linked and with secrets slowly unfolding the reader is held spellbound by the sheer inventiveness of the author. with a wealth of characters the plot twists and turns but is it always believable and the reader is treated to often shocking revelations along the way.

Star rating: none given

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Author, Author by David Lodge

About the book

Framed by a dramatic and moving account of Henry James’s last illness, Author! Author! begins in the early 1880s, describing James’s friendship with the genial Punch artist, George Du Maurier, and his intimate but problematic relationship with fellow American novelist Constance Fenimore Woolson. At the end of the decade Henry, worried by the failure of his books to sell, resolves to achieve fame and fortune as a playwright while Du Maurier diversifies into writing novels. The consequences that ensue mingle comedy, irony, pathos, and suspense. As Du Maurier’s novel Trilby becomes the bestseller of the century, Henry anxiously awaits the opening night of his make-or-break play, Guy Domville. This event, on January 5, 1895, and its complex sequel form the climax to Lodge’s absorbing novel.
Thronged with vividly drawn characters, some of them with famous names, Author! Author! presents a fascinating panorama of literary and theatrical life in late Victorian England. But at its heart is a portrait, rendered with remarkable empathy, of a writer who never achieved popular success in his lifetime or resolved his sexual identity, yet wrote some of the greatest novels about love in the English language.

Reviewed by Romsey School Staff Reading Group:

This book provoked a lot of discussion – opinions varied from: ‘One of the best books the group has read’ to ‘I nearly lost the will to live, trying to finish it!’

Star rating: **

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