Affinity

Review From User :

Oh, Sarah Waters, the lesbian Charles Dickens. Some think she's boring and I totally understand that. Nothing can be more mundane than flowing, ornate sentences filled with imagery strong enough to physically transport you to the setting, right And don't get me started on that gorgeous historically accurate Victorian-style prose. I'm half asleep just thinking about her engaging plots and characters. So, yeah, I can definitely see how it can be boring and how you'd rather watch football or something.

That was sarcasm, by the way.

Okay, cutting the crap and getting down to the review. Yes, there will be spoilers.

Affinity is about a spinster (an older, unmarried woman) named Margaret Prior and, boy, has life really messed her up. Her father (whom she loved dearly) is dead, her mom is overbearing and protective and a Bible away from being the mom in Carrie, her former (female) lover is married to her brother and they have a child together. She takes chloral every day for her emotional instability/insomnia, eventually using it to aid in her suicide after the death of her father. Her suicide failed, obviously, so she decided to be a Lady Visitor at Millbank prison, spending her days speaking with convicts.

At the prison, she meets quirkily alluring and enigmatic Selina Dawes, a psychic medium incarcerated for a reading gone awry. The two seem to be oddly attracted to one another, the nature of their meetings becoming increasingly intimate (on the emotional level, you pervs. Okay, okay, it was supposed to be romantic, but, ya know, jail cells aren't the most private places).

Throughout the whole thing, there's an overhanging sense of dread and the entire atmosphere of the book is summed up by: something isn't right here. After all, Selina seems to be the real deal when it comes to mediums and definitely isn't a fraud. No, ma'am. No way. Nuh uh. Never ever. Totally honest. Yup.

Long story short, the ending is a bit of a mindfuck if you're like me and start thinking after you finish a book, as opposed to during.

A handful of other reviews claim that they didn't care for the character of Margaret Prior, or that they were angry because she was impressionable, weak, and lacked a backbone. I can assume that these people have also never suffered through the trials of uncontrollable bouts of depression, anxiety, self-identity crises, or any other emotional disorders. They probably have thriving social lives and aren't afraid of things like spiders or airplanes. This isn't a bad thing, so be glad that your mental health is squeaky clean and you can't relate to a hopeless and miserable character. I, on the other hand, am utterly neurotic, so Margaret and I got along like two people at an A.A. meeting. To understand her actions, you had to have been familiar with her state of mind. Her obsessiveness and anxiety so mirrored my own, and that was probably the most frightening part of the book.

You see, Margaret's weakness is what drove the plot. Her infatuation and vulnerability is what kept her coming back to Selina time and time again. The way she desperately latched onto her and put her on a pedestal as basically her saving grace was beautiful in itself.

Speaking of their relationship, let me talk about that for a bit. It was adorable, in my opinion. At first, you're really convinced that this is a genuine type of love and that two people truly found each other at a miserable time in their lives and are now destined to defeat the odds and get married and gain weight and watch reality shows together, happily ever after. But this isn't Nicholas Sparks - this is a Victorian lesbian dark paranormal anguish-filled melodrama, and it wants you to be sad.

All in all, this book was fantastic. The plot twist was intricately crafted, almost to an absurd degree. It contained almost everything I'm interested in, which consists of the paranormal, social stigmas, mental instability, Victorian England, betrayal, superb prose, and lesbians.


An upper-class woman recovering from a suicide attempt, Margaret Prior has begun visiting the women’s ward of Millbank prison, Victorian London’s grimmest jail, as part of her rehabilitative charity work. Amongst Millbank’s murderers and common thieves, Margaret finds herself increasingly fascinated by on apparently innocent inmate, the enigmatic spiritualist Selina Dawes. Selina was imprisoned after a seance she was conducting went horribly awry, leaving an elderly matron dead and a young woman deeply disturbed. Although initially skeptical of Selina’s gifts, Margaret is soon drawn into a twilight world of ghosts and shadows, unruly spirits and unseemly passions, until she is at last driven to concoct a desperate plot to secure Selina’s freedom, and her own.

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