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Monday, December 14, 2009


by Sarah Waters
audio book: 15 hours

*** About the Book ***

It is the late 1800s in England and Margaret Prior is almost recovered from a lengthy "illness" (today we'd call it suicidal depression). To help her think about others rather than herself, her doctor encourages her to be a "lady visitor" to the female prisoners at Millbank Prison nearby. On her first visit she meets a number of the inmates but is strangely drawn to one in particular, Selena Dawes. Dawes, as she is called in prison, is a Spiritualist who is known for making spirits appear in the flesh at her seances. Over the course of the next few months a friendship develops between the two women ... but is it more than a friendship? Is it ... an affinity?

A note on the cover images: Neither of those shown here match the version I listened to; these both make sense based on the book. Unfortunately, my version had a woman lounging in a sheet with her hair all tousled, looking like a prostitute. Definitely not in line with the book at all.

*** Why I Read It ***

I heard about this book in a review at Out of the Blue earlier this year and it caught my attention. When I was looking for a new audio book for my commute, this was available at the library so I checked it out.

*** My Thoughts ***

This story is told in two formats. The main story is told from Margaret's point of view through the journal she keeps. Nothing is told as it happens; the reader only learns things as Margaret records them in her journal. The other part of the story, which occurs a few years before, is told from Selena's point of view, mostly through the book of receipts she keeps for the money "gifted" to her by her "friends" who attend her seances. This format worked well for me. I was drawn into Margaret's story but Selena's parts kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what each tidbit of information might mean.

This is a gothic novel in the truest sense of the word. There are seances and spirits and "magic" and hidden love and oppression and a definite creepiness factor woven throughout. And I LOVED it.

*** About the Audio Book ***

This is a VERY well done audio book. I was completely drawn into the story in a way that I don't think would have happened had I read it. The narrator was Juanita McMahon; I've not listened to her before but I will definitely look for her work again. There is a great deal of "he said" and "she said" repeated over and over in the book but McMahon never let that grow tiresome as it could easily have. Rather she modified her voice in very small ways to indicate who was speaking, even though the "dialogue" was all contained in Margaret's journal. Then there were the parts that were particularly gothic in nature and those actually made my skin crawl to listen to. Not that they were "scary" at all, it's just that the narrator infused her words with the creepy mood so well. I'm not sure I'm making a lot of sense here but just trust me when I say that the audio version is fabulous.

*** Your Thoughts ***

So far I've found two other reviews of this book, both of which say good things about it. If you've reviewed it as well I'd love to add your link here.
As for the rest of you, what do you think? Is AFFINITY something you're interesting in checking out?


Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

I have several Sarah Waters books that I would love to check out. Thankfully THIB! has given me an excuse to read The Little Stranger, but I also have The Night Watch and Fingersmith as well. I am will be adding this one to my wishlist now too. Great review.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Nicole - I've already reserved the audio of LITTLE STRANGER from the library so I can participate in the THIB! show - really looking forward to that one. :)

Amanda said...

I've heard a ton of great things about Sarah Waters but have yet to read on of her books. That is something I'm going to have to fix this next year.

Aarti said...

I read this one earlier this year and really enjoyed it, too! (Here's my review: I think it would be great as an audiobook- so atmospheric. I need to read more Waters- Tipping the Velvet next, maybe!

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Amanda - Yes, definitely!

Aarti - Thanks for the link - I added it to my post. :)

Jill said...

Oh, now you and Nymeth are ganging up on me! :) I have added this to my list, but now you've made me want to wait and hope my library picks up the audio version. I hope they do soon!

Trisha said...

I have this sitting on my TBR shelf, and I must say it is quickly moving up the must read now list. Thanks for the review!

Anonymous said...

This is the first I've heard of Affinity, but its going on my TBR list!

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Darla D - Other reviewers say the print version is great as well, so I'm sure either one would be worth your time!

Trisha - I hope you pick it up soon - it was quite good.

longbrakeliving - YAY for finding new books!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Awesome review! I have not read this one, but I did enjoy Fingersmith and Tipping the Velvet.

Alyce said...

I just a big wimp when it comes to anything with spirits and seances. I'm glad you liked the book though. :)

Literary Feline said...

I have yet to read a Sarah Waters book and I really really want to. My plan is to make her a priority this next year and give at least one of her books a try. This one sounds so good! Thanks for the great review.

Lisa said...

Sounds intriguing. I'm definitely going to check it out.

Anonymous said...

This doesn't seem to get as much attention as her other books, but it sounds great.

Rebecca Reid said...

I hear so many good things about this author! Thanks for the review.

Ana S. said...

I'm so glad you loved it! I can see how this would make an excellent audiobook.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Diane - I saw the TV movie based on TIPPING THE VELVET and really enjoyed it!

Alyce - I have a feeling that you'd like this one though, but I can't tell you why or I'd spoil the story. ;)

Literary Feline - Hey, you should read THE LITTLE STRANGER for the Jan. 12 That's How I Blog Show! I've just reserved the audio version - you should look for a copy as well!

Lisa - Hope you like it!

softdrink - It was REALLY good.

Rebecca - I was very impressed with my first book by her.

Nymeth - Did you see Darla D's note above?! ~LOL~

Kailana said...

I am looking forward to reading this book next year!

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