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Fingersmith Read-A-Long ~ Chapters 1 – 5

Cover of FingersmithThe Fingersmith read-a-long is finally here! I hope that you are all enjoying the book as much as I am.

Quick note about this week’s conversation: I am having a dental procedure this afternoon. I’m not scared of dentists as a rule, but this will involve a scalpel and stitches. I also, knowing it was a mistake before I even typed the first letter, Googled the procedure. Let’s just say that I’m more than a little nervous about it. I’m not sure how I’ll be feeling, but I’ll do my best to answer my own questions and respond to your comments before and after the procedure. Please forgive me if I’m a bit more active on Wednesday, though.

Oh, and I’ll be working on the bookmarks while I recover. 🙂

Spoiler Alert: This post and any comments left on this post may contain spoilers from Chapters 1 – 5 of Fingersmith. For those who have read ahead of the schedule, please do not include any information about what happens beyond Chapter 5.

Let’s get started with some questions from this week’s reading:

1. What were your first impressions of Susan and the world in which she grew up? Was she prepared for her first outside of London? Could she have possibly had any other life?

2. Gentleman. I have had trouble framing a question about him that doesn’t lead to hearing what I want to hear (Ha!). Instead, what are your predictions for Gentleman’s future. Will he be successful or will he live up to his moniker?

3. What kind of an impression do you think Sue made on the staff when she arrived? Do you think she’s fully made amends?

4. What do you think is Mr. Lilly’s back story? Why is he so obsessed with his book? Does he really care about Maud?

5. Speaking of Maud, what were your initial impressions of her? What’s up with the gloves and her weird night issues? Do you think that is all to do with her Uncle? Based on her portrayal thus far, do you think we’d consider her anorexic?

6. As Susan comes to know Maud, her opinion on Maud’s feelings toward Gentleman change. When, if at all, do you think she was right? What is it that Maud really wants?

7. Susan began having second thoughts about Gentleman’s plans early on. Do you think her apprehension was solely do to her growing feelings for Maud? Why do you think she developed the feelings that she did for her? Do you think Maud’s feelings are as strong as Susan’s or is she just clinging to the person who feels the most safe to her in comparison to her life with her Uncle?

8. What are your feelings about the book thus far? What are you most curious about? Do you think this story bodes well for any of the characters?

 

 

12 Comments

  • At 2014.10.07 07:10, Sandy said:

    I’m sure you already know this, but bring your iPod. Every awful thing I’ve had done to my mouth (including multiple 3 hour veneer installations and a root canal) I’ve done it while listening to an audio book.

    • At 2014.10.07 10:01, Jennifer said:

      Since I’m listening to The Stand right now, I’m sure whatever is happening in the audiobook will be much more brutal than in my real life. LOL! Thanks for the tip. I need to find my headphones. It sounds like a plan to me.

    • At 2014.10.07 13:47, Amanda @ Go Book Yourself said:

      Fingersmith remains one of my all time favorite books. The plot twists are epic!

      • At 2014.10.08 21:58, Jennifer said:

        I just got to one. I was not expecting that!

      • At 2014.10.07 22:24, Wendy said:

        Well, first let me say I’ve been in a reading slump most of the year. Not even audiobooks appealed to me. This is the first book in months that has drawn me in. I actually read past chapter 5, which completely surprised me. Yay! So, regarding Gentleman in question #2, No–I don’t think he’ll live up to his name at all! In fact, I really don’t think that’s a good name for him in the least, although I do understand that they were applying different standards than I would! I think he’s pretty much a jerk. On the flip side of that, I don’t see Mr. Lilly as much more than a plot device and don’t expect much from him. I was wondering if Sue would rescue Maud, as Maud didn’t seem able to do much for herself. At this point, I feel sorry for her. I occasionally feel sorry for Sue, until she sticks with the plan they’ve devised and I drop the pity.

        • At 2014.10.08 22:01, Jennifer said:

          Wendy, I agree with what you’re saying about Sue especially. I keep thinking that she grew up in a house of thieves, so she was raised to do just what she’s doing. There’s good in her, though, or she wouldn’t be having these reservations. I am curious to see what happens in the next section.

          I was laid lower than I thought by my procedure, so I haven’t answered my own questions yet. I will be doing that tomorrow. Thanks so much for participating!

          • At 2014.10.10 21:36, Susan/SC said:

            I have also dismissed Mr. Lily – wonder if we will both be very wrong!

          • At 2014.10.08 11:25, Literary Feline said:

            I was thinking of doing my own post for each part we read, but work (which is the only real computer time I get) has been so busy that I am realizing that won’t be possible. I’ll write a summary post when I finish the book though.

            To answer some of the questions:

            I liked Susan from the start. Even in her environment among thieves I still find her a little naive. She’s got some rough edges that I think come out especially when she’s with Maud–but then, that way of life is so different than the one she knew growing up. I liked the friction between Susan and the staff when she first arrived–it seemed fitting–and I do think she was able to make amends. Although, I doubt they completely trust her yet, given her outsider status. I thought for a moment maybe she could tell Mrs Stiles to gain help in thwarting the plot, but then realized all of the servants would likely believe Gentleman over her regardless. He has them all under their spell. Not to mention he’s been around a little longer.

            I am really curious about her past and the people in it. Maybe I read too many mysteries, but I am always questioning whether everything is as straightforward as it is being presented or is their more to it. I’d be fine either way. I admit I did keep hoping Susan would decide against going through with the plan and just tell Maud. I understand why she didn’t though. I have my doubts that Maud would believe her also, although I would like to think she trusts Susan enough that she would. I’m just not sure what Gentleman would do if it did all come out. I don’t trust him at all.

            I think Susan has a mostly good heart in general and while I do think her growing feelings for Maud have made her doubt her plan more, we know she had doubts even from the first time it was mentioned. At least a flitting doubt.

            I do not like Gentleman at all. I didn’t like him from his first appearance in the book. He’s pushy and sneaky and cruel and I want him not to be successful in any way shape or form.

            In regards to Mr. Lilly, I’m still fuzzy on his back story. I may have been distracted by a three year old when Waters’ first wrote about him. He seems a bit eccentric and I am curious about him. I agree with Wendy though about his being more of a plot device I don’t expect much from–that’s kind of the impression I got as well.

            Maud is such an interesting character. I wonder at something in her past. I think she’s much more complicated than Gentleman and Susan think. So many thoughts have crossed my mind–are there ghosts or a spirit in the house, is she being haunted, did she suffer a trauma in her past like assault, what does her uncle have to do with it, if anything? I have more questions than answers at this point. All I know is she’s frightened of something and it is not just Gentleman.

            I don’t think Maud was ever really in love with Gentleman, but rather likes the idea of being able to escape from the house. I’m still unsure of how she truly feels about Susan, although a part of me is leaning toward her loving Susan as well. That possibly confuses and frightens her, just as it does Susan. But I can also see an argument being made that Maud’s feelings are more in relation to her feeling safe with Susan, especially after having no real intimacy with anyone in her life.

            So far, I am really enjoying Fingersmith. I love Sarah Waters’ writing style and it is so easy to get swept into the book when I am reading it. I just wish I had more time to read!! Isn’t that a common complaint for us all though? Most of us anyway. 🙂

            Thank you for hosting the read-a-long, Jennifer! I hope your dental visit went well.

            • At 2014.10.08 22:03, Jennifer said:

              Thanks so much for your thoughts on those questions! You hit the nail on the head about wishing you had more time to read this book. I love Waters so much! I’m going to reply to you and write my own thoughts tomorrow. My surgery really knocked the wind out of my sails today. I’m feeling better now, though. 🙂

            • At 2014.10.08 16:27, Sheila (Book Journey) said:

              I skimmed you r post as I am just bummed I did not know about this! This is a book I have wanted to read for a long time! I am away from home for the next couple of days but perhaps I can find it on my shelf and catch up when I return home 🙂

              Read more from Sheila (Book Journey)

              The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

              Just when you think you know what you know that you know….  you discover…  you know nothing at all….  ~Sheila When Ted Severson meets the lovely Lily Kinter at an airport bar afte[…]

              • At 2014.10.08 21:58, Jennifer said:

                Shoot! I hope you can join us. It really is a quick read and I’ll enjoy hearing your thoughts as they come along. Enjoy your time away!

              • At 2014.10.10 21:35, Susan/SC said:

                I’m going to post my responses before I go back and read others so I keep my own thoughts straight. I’ll start by saying I am loving it! I was late starting as I had to finish up some other things but now I can’t put it down.
                1. What were your first impressions of Susan and the world in which she grew up? Was she prepared for her first outside of London? Could she have possibly had any other life? My thought as I read this was how we think the world today is so terrible but dishonesty has been around from the beginning. Today we always search for reasons for someone who tuns out bad; they are much more matter of fact – some people are just thieves. I don’t think at that time she could have had another life, she was tainted by her mother’s hanging and would have never been accepted in society.

                2. Gentleman. I have had trouble framing a question about him that doesn’t lead to hearing what I want to hear (Ha!). Instead, what are your predictions for Gentleman’s future. Will he be successful or will he live up to his moniker? Hate him, he’s awful! I just can’t imagine he is going to be successful in the end. Not sure if Susan will thwart his plans or if Maud or Susan will snap and kill him!

                3. What kind of an impression do you think Sue made on the staff when she arrived? Do you think she’s fully made amends? She may have made amends but I don’t think she has their confidence. She is still somewhat of an outsider.

                4. What do you think is Mr. Lilly’s back story? Why is he so obsessed with his book? Does he really care about Maud? Mr. Lily hasn’t made much of an impression on me other than thinking he is a crazy person. I haven’t even been curious about him because he is such an unappealing character!

                5. Speaking of Maud, what were your initial impressions of her? What’s up with the gloves and her weird night issues? Do you think that is all to do with her Uncle? Based on her portrayal thus far, do you think we’d consider her anorexic? I have been wondering about the gloves. I almost thought when she was in the cemetery talking about her mother’s death that it would end up explaining the gloves but then it didn’t. Killed her with my own hands kind of thing – but more literal rather than the birthing story. She’s definitely mentally ill but how could she not be with the life she has led. And, what kind of craziness did Sue dream up – died swallowing a pin, feel like surely there is some illusion there that I am not getting.

                6. As Susan comes to know Maud, her opinion on Maud’s feelings toward Gentleman change. When, if at all, do you think she was right? What is it that Maud really wants? I do think Maud is afraid but not just of Gentleman but of everything.I’m not sure what Maud wants other than Susan at this point.

                7. Susan began having second thoughts about Gentleman’s plans early on. Do you think her apprehension was solely do to her growing feelings for Maud? Why do you think she developed the feelings that she did for her? Do you think Maud’s feelings are as strong as Susan’s or is she just clinging to the person who feels the most safe to her in comparison to her life with her Uncle? I’d say, yes, that apprehension comes about because she starts to care for Maud. I think Maud also cares for Sue but maybe that is me just being romantic.

                8. What are your feelings about the book thus far? What are you most curious about? Do you think this story bodes well for any of the characters? I love the book! I can’t see any of the characters getting out of this unscathed. Waters does a great job creating a mood of dread and foreboding. Makes me think there is no chance that Susan will transform the house like The Secret Garden and she and Maud will live happily ever after.

                (Required)
                (Required, will not be published)

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