AffinityPaperback Virago V S.
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- Publisher: Virago Press Ltd
- Format: Paperback | 368 pages
- Dimensions: 122mm x 196mm x 24mm | 280g
- Publication date: 27 October 2005
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 186049692X
- ISBN 13: 9781860496929
- Sales rank: 10,404
Set in and around the women's prison at Milbank in the 1870's , 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 seances, shadows, unruly spirits and unseemly passions.
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Sarah Waters was born in Wales in 1966. She has a PhD in English Literature and has taught at the Open University.
'Indeed, this is such a brilliant writer that her readers would believe anything she told them' A.N. WILSON, D. MAIL ** 'Spooky, spellbinding, exquisitely written ... I do believe Waters is on the way to becoming a major literary star' VAL HENNESSY ** 'A work of intense and atmospheric imagination ... Sarah Waters is ... a kind of feminist Dickens' TELEGRAPH 'Sexy, spooky, stylish, AFFINITY is a wonderful book from any perspective' G. FODEN, GUARDIAN
This ambitious second novel, a richly detailed exploration of the mysterious affinity that appears to unite two lonely women, boldly extends the range of the British writer (Tipping the Velvet, 1999). The dominant world is London's Millbank Women's Prison, to which highborn Margaret Prior comes in 1874, as a Lady Visitor offering solace and companionship to Millbank's wretched inhabitants. This is intended as therapy, for Margaret has recently attempted suicidean act presumed to stem from the recent death of her father (a respected Renaissance scholar), but is in fact connected to a disappointment in love. At Millbank, Margaret is drawn to the vibrant figure of Selina Dawes, a spirit medium blamed for the death of a client during a sance. The developing closeness between the two women intensified by evidence that Selina is telepathically sending tokens of her affection to Margaret's homeis juxtaposed with flashback scenes that gradually disclose the truth about Selina's supposed powers (especially as embodied in the visitant she claims is her collaborator, seductive Peter Quickin a knowing nod to Henry James's The Turn of the Screw). Waters has researched her mood-drenched Victorian gothic quite impressively (down to such convincing minutiae as this injunction to search all prison visitors: Infants may be taught to pass on blades, in their very kisses). And the long denouement, in which Margaret, having risked everything, awaits the fulfillment of Selina's promise that stone walls do not a prison make (You need only want me, and I will come), grates exquisitely on the reader's nerves, right up to its brilliant climax in the revelatory image of a mud-brown gown . . . and a maids black frock . . . tangled together, like sleeping lovers. Waters has found a superb metaphor for the love that dares not speak its name, and developed it with remarkable ingenuity and power: another stunning performance by a young writer whose promise seems just about unlimited. (Kirkus Reviews)