Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"I was never so frightened as I am now."

My pending-review books are now stacked by size and not by when I read them because the stack was starting to wobble (yikes!) so my apologies if my thoughts in any upcoming posts are a bit scattered or, most likely, sparse. I think Affinity was the first book I finished this year. There was a lot to like about it and then there were things that just didn't work for me. What I liked the most was the familiarity of Sarah Waters' characters. I would never be able to tell you what it is about them but I could recognize one of her women anywhere. Waters really has a distinct voice and a certain way of writing her leads. I also really liked the descriptions of the Victorian women's prison. I don't think this is something that gets talked about very much so it was quite fascinating (and heartbreaking, of course). What I didn't really like in this story was the plot. I didn't hate it but it just didn't do much for me. I think by never finding out what this novel was about before reading it, I got my expectations too high for a ripping good ghost story. Instead, it's a tale about belief and kindness and the human condition.

So, because this didn't become my new favorite Waters' novel, I'll have to keep The Little Stranger in the number one spot. In fact, if I get a chance, I wouldn't mind re-reading it later this year!

(If you would like a more thorough discussion of this book, Kelly and Marg just posted about it yesterday and had some great thoughts about it.)

Waiting for the next offering,


  1. I must get around to reading Sarah Waters one of these days. So many people have so many good things to say about her.

  2. AFFINITY lost me on plot, too. It was much more straight forward than I expected. I saw where it was headed right from the get-go, with no surprises along the way, so I emerged disappointed.

    I agree that Waters's voice and period descriptions are fantastic, though. She's tops at atmosphere. No matter what era she's writing about, you can feel it down to your bones.

  3. I liked Affinity, but I agree that The Little Stranger wins hands down. The plot of Affinity is certainly the most straightforward one I've read by Waters - but I thought the twist at the end did work up to a point (you know it's not what it seems, it couldn't possibly be, but you don't see the full picture until Margaret Prior does)

  4. Your reaction to Affinity is exactly what I expect mine to be, and that is why I haven't read it yet. One of these days I swear I will; I don't like not having read Sarah Waters's entire oeuvre.

  5. I still have books I read in 2011 to review. How sad is that!!??? Love that cover. And I plan on reading The Little Stranger at one point this year.

  6. I look forward to the day when I can say I am familiar enough with Water's work to recognise her characters anywhere!

    Thanks for linking to our discussion.

  7. This was my first read by Waters but it definitely won't be my last. I think I have The Little Stranger already on my shelves...I should go check :)

  8. Emily - When I finally started reading her books I felt like a bit of a dummy for waiting so long! I hope you enjoy her!

    Memory - I'm glad that you had the same experience that I did. I thought I might have been hard on it because of my expectations. But I think it was more straight-forward than Fingersmith (obviously!).

    Tracy - I'm glad you agree about The Little Stranger! I know that I'm in the minority ranking it first but it was just so incredible.

    Jenny - Luckily she's alive and writing so we have more books to look forward to. It's not the literal "last one" to read. Yay!

    Jenners - I'm at least in this year but it's kind of freaking me out that it's almost February! And I can't wait to hear what you think about The Little Stranger.

    Marg - It will definitely happen. She has a unique voice!

    Samantha - This is right in the middle of her books for me so you picked a good place to start! You'll read others that don't quite measure up but you'll also read ones that are amazing. Have fun!

  9. I still have Tipping the Velvet and The Little Stranger to read by her one of these days.

  10. Kailana - Those two are very different too! One is at the top of my ranking of her books and the other is at the bottom. ;)

  11. So skimming through the comments it looks like you've read a lot by Waters! I've only read Fingersmith and Affinity and I really love the way that she pulls atmosphere into her books. But i couldn't help but be a bit disappointed by this one, too. I finished it earlier this month and still haven't reviewed it because I'm just not sure what to say. guess I just didn't get pulled into the story like I did with Fingersmith.

    So Little Strangers should be my next one? ;)

  12. Trish - This was the last one that I hadn't read. Now I'm stuck waiting for whatever she writes next! The Little Stranger is very atmospheric and it's her only book that doesn't have lesbians which gives it a different feel -- no forbidden romance angle which all of the others have. I think it might be a good one if you want to try her most different book!