I don’t even know where to begin describing how I feel about this book. Two of the topics that tend to make me cringe when I read are spiritualism and sexuality, and this book focuses on both. I thought for sure I was going to give up and put it down, but I kept going and I can honestly say I’m glad I did.
Sarah Waters is an acclaimed author, more so in her native UK than in the US where I live, but she does have a certain amount of respect here as well. Her stories tend to be set in the past, mostly in what we would associate with the Victorian era, and lesbian themes tend to run throughout. Affinity is no different, only this time, one of the main characters is a medium. Two strikes against for me.
What I do admire is Waters’ writing style. The dominant story line is about a girl whose father has died and who decides to become a “lady visitor” at the local women’s prison. She befriends one prisoner more than others who turns out to be a spirit medium. Each chapter is in the form of a diary entry, so the reader gets to see the story from the perspective of both women. Until the final few chapters, I felt certain I knew what was going to happen, but I was thoroughly surprised by the ending and also somewhat relieved. The gradual way Waters allows the personalities of her characters to unfold seems very natural, despite the content being so far-fetched.
Based on the themes alone, I can’t say I would recommend this book. I thought for sure it would earn a 1 rating from me, but I have to give it bonus points for talented writing.
Rating = 2