Affinity - Sarah Waters

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I have to admit when I bought this book, I did so based on the picture on the cover, as I did not have my glasses with me. Sounds silly, doesn't it, although relevant to my review of this book since, had I read the descriptions of other works given by the Independent on Sunday, whom I can only ... Read review
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Affinity - Sarah Waters

Affinity - Sarah Waters

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Affinity (Virago V S.) - Sarah Waters

Affinity (Virago V S.) - Sarah Waters

Affinity is a tale of power and possession that Henry James himself might admire. In her ... more

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 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 towards the sun, caressing
 her cheek with a forbidden violet: "As I watched
her, she put the flower to her lips, and  breathed
upon it, and the purple of the petals gave a
quiver and seemed to glow..."  The medium Selina
Dawes may indeed have the face of a Crivelli
angel, but she is in prison for fraud  and
assault. Suffice 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 that 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 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' haunting
creation leaves us with is a more painful 
reality--that knowledge and belief are entirely
different things. --Kerry Fried,  Amazon.com

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User reviews »

1-5 of 5 reviews Show most helpful reviews first Newest first

 

Community Level 8thingywhat...

thingywhatsit

SPIRITED WRITING.

AdvantagesSuperb writer that startled me in a wonderful way.

DisadvantagesNone at all.

"I have to admit when I bought this book, I did so based on the picture on the cover, as I did not have my glasses with me. Sounds silly, doesn't it, although relevant to my review of this book since, had I read the descriptions of other works given by the Independent on Sunday, whom I can only presume did not read this book, I perhaps would not have bought it. They describe her work entitled "Tipping the Velvet" as "a sexy and picaresque romp through ..." Read review
18.05.2006

Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful

Community Level 1angelfacec...

angelfacecuti75

Affinity an excellent work...

AdvantagesGripping, makes you want to believe it...

DisadvantagesSense of let down at end of book (could also be seen as good)

"As a literature student, I groaned at the thickness of another book I had to read within a week, on my modern novels course last year. However, when I started to read this book I was really surprised & started to get into it really quickly. The story follows the upper class character of Margaret Prior, who has decided to pursue some 'good work' with the lady prisoners at Millbank, a scary & winding prison. Margaret goes to 'civilise' some of these ..." Read review
05.06.2007

Ciao members have rated this review on average: helpful

Community Level 1Agula

Agula

Enchanting read.

AdvantagesQuick, easy, fascinating and "moorish" read.

DisadvantagesNone.

"A well written novel. Not a lot of books can be called that these days. A lot of mystery, ideal dose of tension, sensuous but not overwhelming descriptions. I marvelled over the combination of innocence and cunning in the book. A girls go to work as a mentor in women's only prison. She has few under her care and there is one, special one she is intrigued by. Young girl who never says much. Friendships are not allowed between staff and convicted. But ..." Read review
21.08.2008

Ciao members have rated this review on average: helpful

Community Level 1lilmisslala

lilmisslala

Affinity by S. Waters

Advantagesexciting, big twist, romance, wow

Disadvantagessad ending, decieving, takes a long time to get to the good bits

"This is one of those rare books which you will have difficulty putting down. You will want to read and read it, until it is finished! It's a story of margaret prior a 30 or so year old single woman who decides to help in the Milkbank prison by talking to prisoners to help them become better people.. Little did she know that her life is about to be changed for ever. In prison, she meets Selina Dawes, she has been jailed for fraud and assault. ..." Read review
26.05.2006

Ciao members have rated this review on average: somewhat helpful

Community Level 1Noodle3

Noodle3

Affinity

AdvantagesCaptivating and startling

DisadvantagesPrepare yourself a bit

" "Her quiet voice, that only I can hear, is the most frightening voice of them all." That voice is the narrative you encounter from the two key characters, but mostly from the protagonist - Margaret Prior who carries you through the spooky and spelling biding journey. Margaret takes us from her own Victorian upbringing with its traditional Victorian values, that of marriage and presentably. And plunges us into the gaols of Millbank prison. ..." Read review
04.12.2006

Ciao members have rated this review on average: somewhat helpful

Show all 5 reviews

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Product details

Author Sarah Waters
Title Affinity
Genre Gay & Lesbian
Type Fiction
ISBN 1573221562; 1573228737; 1844085007

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Listed on Ciao since 18/05/2006

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