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A spellbinding ghost story set in Victorian London.
Greeted with enthusiastic praise, Sarah Waters's debut novel, Tipping the Velvet, was lauded as "amazing" and "delightful" (Salon.com), "buoyant and accomplished" (The New York Times Book Review), "glorious" (The Boston Globe), and "wonderful" (San Francisco Chronicle). Critics compared her to Jeannette Winterson, adding that "readers of all sexes and orientations should identify" with Waters's unforgettable nineteenth-century heroines. Now, Sarah Waters brilliantly returns with Affinity--a haunting ghost story and Guardian (London) bestseller that has left British reviewers "transfixed with horror and excitement" (Daily Mail, London).
An upper-class woman recovering from a suicide attempt, Margaret Prior has begun visiting the women's ward of Millbank prison, London's grimmest jail, as part of her rehabilitative charity work. Amongst Millbank's murderers and common thieves, Margaret finds herself increasingly fascinated by one apparently innocent inmate, the enigmatic spiritualist Selina Dawes. Initially skeptical of Selina's gifts, Margaret is soon drawn into a twilight world of sances and shadows, unruly spirits and unseemly passions, until she is at last persuaded to concoct a desperate plot to secure Selina's freedom.
A pulse-quickening read by a remarkably talented writer, Affinity is a sophisticated and spine-tingling historical mystery awash with the scenes, sights, and smells of nineteenth-century London.
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Affinity is a tale of power and possession that Henry James himself might admire. In her first novel, Tipping the Velvet, Sarah Waters explored secrets and longing--capping off this lesbian romp with a utopian-socialist vision. Her intricate follow-up is just as sensual but infinitely darker, its moral more difficult to descry. Its stylistic and psychological rewards, however, are visible at every turn, the author's persuasive imagination matched by her gift for storytelling.
In late September 1874, Margaret Prior makes her way through the pentagons of London's Millbank Prison, a place of fearful symmetry and endless corridors. This plain woman on the verge of 30 has come to comfort those behind bars, several of whom Waters brings to instant, sad life. And our Lady Visitor plans to take her role dead seriously, having recovered from two years of nervous indolence in her family's Chelsea house. One person, however, makes her job a passion. Opening an inspection slit (or "eye" as these devices are known), Margaret hears "a perfect sigh, like a sigh in a story." Peering inward, she's confronted by the most erotic of visions--a woman turned toward the sun, caressing her cheek with a forbidden violet: "As I watched, she put the flower to her lips, and breathed upon it, and the purple of the petals gave a quiver and seemed to glow..."
Selina Dawes may indeed have the face of a Crivelli angel, but this medium is in for fraud and assault, her last session having gone very badly indeed. Suffice it to say that the first full encounter between these two very different women is enthralling. "You think spiritualism a kind of fancy," Selina riddles. "Doesn't it seem to you, now you are here, that anything might be real, since Millbank is?" And soon enough Margaret receives several viable signs of the supernatural: a locket disappears from her room, flowers mysteriously appear, and her dazzling friend knows everything about her. Strangest of all, Selina seems to love her.
As Margaret records her weekly prison forays, her own past comes into focus, notably her plans to travel to Italy with her first love (who is now her sister-in-law). But her current journal, she convinces herself, is to be very different from her last one, which "took as long to burn as human hearts, they say, do take." Meanwhile, Waters offers a narrative two-for-one, placing Margaret's diary cheek by jowl with Selina's chronicle of her pre-Millbank existence. This dispassionate, staccato record initially suggests that we can separate truth from desire. Or can we? What Waters's haunting creation leaves us with is a more painful reality--that knowledge and belief are entirely different things. --Kerry FriedAbout the Author:
Sarah Waters is the New York Times bestselling author of The Little Stranger, The Night Watch, Fingersmith, Affinity, and Tipping the Velvet. She has three times been short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, twice been a finalist for the Orange Prize, and was named one of Granta’s best young British novelists, among other distinctions. Waters lives in London.
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Book Description VIRAGO, 2008. Condition: Neu. Neu - \* An eerie and utterly compelling novel of mystery and seduction set in a women's prison in Victorian London \* Now a major TV film. Englisch. Seller Inventory # INF1000105312