Affinity by Sarah Waters


I bought this last year in a charity book fair and finally got around to reading it, this is part of my Beat The Backlist Challenge which I have now updated

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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 séance 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

My Thoughts

Affinity is an intriguing story, beginning when Margaret Prior starts visiting a women’s prison.  The horrors of the Victorian prison are described giving us a good impression of how different and shocking they are compared to today. Margaret’s visits are encouraged to help her return to normal after losing her father. The story rolls out slow and suspenseful as she meets Selina who is a medium. We are told a lot about Margaret and her problems and are  left wondering about Selina.

I enjoyed the way the story unfolded and how the author has Margaret research Selina like an obsession so that the reader can discover her past and the short bits in Selina’s viewpoint. It adds to the suspense and keeps you guessing.

Towards the end as it reaches a climax it does start to get quite disturbing as you try to figure out: is magic or Margaret’s madness?

I did find the setting of the prison a bit repetitive at times but I enjoyed the style of the story and couldn’t wait to get to the end to discover what was really going on.

I  guessed early on the solution to the mystery and I was disappointed as the ending was mostly what I expected. There was a moment where I wondered if it would be otherwise though. I was also annoyed with Margaret, she doesn’t seem to do anything at the end of the book, I would’ve liked to have seen what happened next and she annoyed me so much. She seems such a pathetic character that doesn’t really grow, maybe I missed something? I want to say more but I want to avoid spoilers

Does it spoil your enjoyment of a book if you guess a resolution before the end? Even just part of it? It disappointed me, especially when my other guesses seemed better

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