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by Sarah Waters

Category: Fiction / General
352 pages; ISBN: 186049692X

Rating: 8/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner


By 1873, in her late twenties, upper class Margaret Prior tries kill herself to end her unhappy life following a failed love affair. She also fails at suicide and by the fall of 1874, as part of her recuperation, Margaret begins visiting London`s Millbank Women`s Prison, home of convicted murderers and thieves who almost all claim their innocence.

However, one individual, the spiritualist Selina Dawes, connects on an emotional level with Margaret. Selina has been imprisoned because of the death of an elderly patron at a seance she hosted. Selina begins to send tokens of her affection to Margaret via her "associate" Peter. Margaret finally decides to free her "future" lover and herself from the solid and imaginary walls that separate them even if it means risking her life.

AFFINITY is a powerful yet detailed Victorian tale centering on relationships, especially that forbidden by society between two women. The story line is drawn along two paths, Margaret`s current diary and Selina`s journal of her pre-incarceration days. Surprisingly, this technique works as readers obtain a juxtaposition glimpse at Selina from her own view and that of her wannabe lover. With homage to the authors of that era, Sarah Waters shows she is a rare talent who demonstrates that emotion and intellect do not often go hand in hand as human frailty intercedes.


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