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Affinity by Sarah Waters

By Pamelascott

"Now you know why you are drawn to me - why your flesh comes creeping to mine, and what it comes for. Let it creep."

From the dark heart of a Victorian prison, disgraced spiritualist Selina Dawes weaves an enigmatic spell. Is she a fraud, or a prodigy? By the time it all begins to matter, you'll find yourself desperately wanting to believe in magic.

Set in and around the women's prison at Milbank in the 1870s, Affinity is an eerie and utterly compelling ghost story, a complex and intriguing literary mystery and a poignant love story with an unexpected twist in the tale.

Following the death of her father, Margaret Prior has decided to pursue some 'good work' with the lady criminals of one of London's most notorious gaols. Surrounded by prisoners, murderers and common thieves, Margaret feels herself drawn to one of the prisons more unlikely inmates - the imprisoned spiritualist - Selina Dawes. Sympathetic to the plight of this innocent-seeming girl, Margaret sees herself dispensing guidance and perhaps friendship on her visits, little expecting to find herself dabbling in a twilight world of séances, shadows, unruly spirits and unseemly passions.


[I was never so frightened as I am now]


(Virago, 26 June 2012, first published 1999, paperback, 368 pages, bought from @TheBHF)



I've read a few of Waters novels and have mixed feelings about them. I love some things about her books and have found other books boring. She's hard to rate. I loved her novel, The Little Strangers but loved the TV version of Tipping the Velvet much more than the book. I found Affinity excellent at times but quite boring at times. It falls in the middle for me. I loved the atmosphere of the book, there's a sense of unpleasantness and dread hanging over everything. The chapters alternate between Margaret and Selina and this works really well. At times, though, the prose was dense and dragged a bit.

Affinity Sarah Waters

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