Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sarah Waters

Before last month, my only exposure to the work of Sarah Waters was the British adaptation of "Tipping the Velvet," the story of a poor young woman in Victorian times who has an affair with a celebrated male impersonator. The lead actresses--Rachael Stirling (Diana Rigg's daughter) and Keeley Hawes ("Ashes to Ashes," the sequel to "Life on Mars") were excellent, and the plot compelling.
Then in the space of a few weeks, I read Waters' latest novel, "The Little Stranger," and watched the adaptation of an earlier novel, "Fingersmith."
"The Little Stranger" is a first-rate ghost story right up there with "The Turn of the Screw," "The Haunting of Hill House," and "The Shining." Set in post World War ll England, the novel uses a decaying country mansion and its inhabitants as symbols of the decline of the traditional ruling classes. Never terribly explicit in its horror, the story is nonetheless chilling. Waters is a gifted writer, and her characters are distinctly drawn and alive. Today, there was a brief in the New York Times announcing this year's Booker nominations. "The Little Stranger" is up for the prize, Sarah Waters' third nomination. Well-deserved.
"Fingersmith," set in the Victorian era, is a twisty tale of thieves, con artists and the wealthy. Nobody turns out to be who we--and they--think they are. The end of the first part of the film, also made for British TV, is a terrific shock that makes you immediately want to dive into part two. Available on DVD. Definitely check it out.


Post a Comment

<< Home