Thursday, May 3

Sarah Waters: Affinity

An upperclass woman recovering from a suicide attempt becomes a volunteer visitor at Millbank women's prison. It is 1874, spiritualism is at its height, and one of the inmates is a genteel medium convicted of fraud. This woman stands out amongst the murderers and thieves who surround her.
The visitor develops a special bond with the medium and after a sceptical start becomes convinced that her abilities are real. Eventually she falls in love with the woman and helps her plan her escape. She is to arrange the mundane aspects of their getaway, while the woman insists that the spirits will help her with the actual prison break.
But will, the desperate plan work?
I have mixed feelings about this work. I have quite enjoyed stories by Waters in the past but I don't feel that this one lived up to its potential.
The pace was very slow and at times I felt I was reading a tract on the conditions and workings of ninteenth century prisons.
Having said that, the story had a feeling of truth to it, the characters were quite believable, if somewhat unsympathetic. The ending is good in that it brings everything to light but somehow it still felt loose to me.
I think there was a lot that might have been done here that wasn't, a shame because the author's voice is strong and capable.-Lynn

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