28 January, 2010


So, the other night I dreamed that I was making a post about Fingersmith, which is my favorite romance novel--except I guess that romance novel is a genre, and Fingersmith belongs to a different genre. So, of the novels in the world that contain love stories, this one contains my favorite love story, and is one of my favorite novels in general. In my dream, I had decided that Fingersmith could be read through a disability lens. When I woke up I realized this was actually true.

It's sort of hard to describe what it is about without getting into OMG Spoiler!! territory. It's a gothic novel/thriller that takes place in Victorian England. The main character Sue is an orphan who was brought up in a den of thieves, and gets involved in a plot to screw over this rich girl, Maud. Sue is supposed to get herself hired as Maud's maid and convince Maud to marry a particular guy, who is actually a con man. Then they'll work together to make Maud unstable and depressed, get her put in a madhouse, and share her money.

Maud has an unambiguous disability, an anxiety disorder for which she takes sedatives. But she also fits into a particular archetype that could be read as ASD--she's prissy, naive, and social awkward. The whole plan is based in Maud's innocence, stemming from her isolated upbringing; she's an overprotected "pigeon" who can be made to trust anyone. Sue tries to make friends with Maud so she can better manipulate her, and falls into a nursing/protective role; Sue grew up taking care of babies, and responds to Maud's anxiety and neediness. To some extent, I think she becomes attached to Maud because she wants to fix her and make her more normal.

Right now I'm rewatching the movie, which, in an unusual turn of events, is just as good as the book. (I actually saw the movie first, because it's on YouTube; it's forever being taken down for copyright violation, but someone invariably puts it back up right away.) Does anyone else love Fingersmith as much as I do, and/or have disability feelings about it?

1 comment:

  1. I love Fingersmith as well. I have yet to read the book, but I have read Affinity and started reading Tipping The Velvet. Sarah Waters just writes so beautifully and has an incredible amount of talent of which I'm very jealous of. The plot twist in Fingersmith really threw me, I wasn't expecting it.

    Maud having an ASD is a very interesting perspective, and from what I can conjure up from memory, I think that her having a disability explains her behavior. At one point I thought that maybe she was bipolar or had a borderline personality disorder, but she could've have several things.