Review: Sarah Waters’ “Affinity”

by writereaderly

A young spirit-medium is accused of a crime in Victorian England, tried and imprisoned. A Lady Visitor comes to the prison to recover from life angst etc., and provide a good moral example to the lower orders. An “affinity” between the two women is claimed, an escape is planned, one love is fulfilled and another is ruined. Ta-dum.

This was Water’s third novel, and I wanted to read it to re-dyke my book pile and because I’d really enjoyed her first two books (let’s not even talk about the fourth novel, ugh). But really, this one just wasn’t up to the engrossing, historically sexy standard of Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith, and I won’t be reading any more of her work unless it receives an *excellent* review.

Also, the ending left me saddened and a little put out. I wanted this book to be a magic realist romance  – especially to make up for how unexceptional it was – and it just wasn’t (belated spoiler alert, peeps). It made me realise that what I wanted from dyke literature was happy endings, rather than heartbreak and possible suicide and overall meanness. Surely happily ever after isn’t too much to expect from the lady-loving five percent of the world’s literature?!

Where it came from: CH’s Bookshelf
Time & manner of reading: A few days of bed- and tram-reads, but without great enthusiasm
Where it went to: Back home
Reminds me of: Hilary Mantel’s Beyond Black, just because it’s a medium novel, but more interestingly… the burlesque performance by Moira Finucane where she acts the entire piece fully dressed in Victorian mourning dress, wringing her hands to the passionate love song playing in the background
Who I’d recommend it to:
Also reading: The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene; The Plumed Serpent by D.H. Lawrence; The Reivers by William Faulkner; Moby Dick by Herman Melville; The Times Deceas’d by Timothy d’Arch Smith