Fingersmith, The Handmaiden by Sarah Waters Rothdas book review RSS
4.0 Stars

A pure and great book. The author, Sarah Waters, wisely decided to center her story around lesbians, who are the foundation upon which all great art is built. In addition to the lesbians, the book has memorable and well drawn characters, lock picking, severe trickery, excellent writing, and a lot of neat little grounded details of 1850's English life. The movie Handmaiden draws *heavily* from the book, though it changes several of the later narrative beats. I like both versions; the movie has a simpler and cleaner third act, where the motivations take yet one more ninety degree turn. It can get away with this last twist since the movie only shows the surfaces of characters, allowing some motivations to be hidden in ways the book could not. For the book, the third act dragged a bit, it was more complicated and muddled and slower and way meaner than even the first two acts. I did not like it quite as much. Except for the very, very, very end of the book, which was 100% delightful and wraps up some niggling meta-issues. E.g. one the villains of the book is someone who obsessively collects and collates erotica, including lesbian porn (quiet! quiet!), but then how do you square that with the fact that the reader is reading a steamy lesbian book and the writer is writing a steamy lesbian book? Anyway, this was my first Sarah Waters book and I'm looking forward to trying more of her work. One complaint: I kind of want to re-read the book to better understand some of the smaller bits and symbols, since it is a book that reveals itself in stages and so encourages a second reading to catch everything. However, at 600 pages I can't justify the time it would take to re-read. The Handmaiden movie has the advantage there, since it is not as big of a commitment to re-watch.