Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Fingersmith Review by Ninebel

"Ninebel" is the blogonym of Jenine -- who comments here sometimes; who I have known for more than half of my life.

I was fortunate to meet Jenine my first semester of college, and that's a fur piece down the road now. We've been suitemates and housemates, and we've been to each other's weddings. Jenine's wedding was in Oakland, CA by the way. Almost exactly 10 years ago . . . so Happy Anniversary, Jenine and Dan! I can remember the date, not because I'm good at that sort of thing, but because it is more or less the same date as my youngest daughter -- who was, literally, a babe in arms and in full attendance at the big event. (I left out the crying bit; is that still scar tissue, Jenine?)

Despite all of this prior knowledge, though, it had been many years since I talked to Jenine more often than . . . let's just say Christmas cards and the very odd email. Blogging has brought this funny, beautiful friend back into my life -- and for that, I am truly thankful. She has a great writing "voice" and her precise, fine sense of word selection always delights me.

Jenine is my only "prior" who actually has a blogging habit. Somehow it didn't surprise me to find out that she has been into the blogging thing for a long time now . . . she was always "most likely to blog." When we were in college, Jenine always knew the coolest music. She was also the most likely person to set aside studying in order to burrow into a good book. I've always admired her for her catholic and eclectic tastes. She is one of the few people I know who can take on P.G. Wodehouse and science fiction and mysteries and "lesbian Victoriana" and love them all.

So did lesbian Victoriana catch your eye? Because that is my segue for Fingersmith -- a short-lister from Booker Prize 2002. Apparently, "fingersmith" was slang for a light-fingered thief . . . and another kind of delicate fingering ability as well. The Life of Pi took the prize in 2002, and I'd like to know if Jenine considers it the worthier piece of literature. To be honest, I probably wouldn't have picked up this particular book -- despite my love of the Victorian era. But Jenine gives it such a seductive write-up that I am now determined to add it to the ranks on my to-read bookshelf.

Oh, and you can feel free to read ahead . . . because Jenine has refrained from spoilers.



Brave Sir Robin said...

I'll go read it right away.


Just a Plane Ride Away said...

Ack! Another book for The List. Thanks, Jenine!

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who rewards good behaviour with a few hours of reading.

Anonymous said...

Bee you're very kind. I'm not sure I can adequately express my enjoyment of your blogging foray! I follow strangers' trials and triumphs via blogs. But it's a real treat to get installments of a good friend's writing and be able to keep up with you this way.

I continue to admire your joie de vivre. I remember you in the college years as savoring everything. From people (stoners, professors, nerds, diner patrons) and ideas and music on down to those baked potatoes.

And I don't remember your beautiful baby girl crying at our wedding. If I noticed it at the time, I would have categorized it as good luck. I was very into auspicious omens for my wedding day. The superstitious element really came out in me then. Yet I consider myself a big skeptic.

I have Life of Pi on my... well, floor, to be truthful. I don't keep books on my nightstand. So I'll let you know how I think they compare.

I'm about to finish Blind Assassin and I'm feeling pretty tired of Margaret Atwood at the moment. I'll see if her ending convinces me otherwise.


Anonymous said...

Oh, I did leave out the 'lesbian Victoriana' descriptive didn't I? I selected it without that clue, I didn't realize until I brought it home that it was written by the author of Tipping the Velvet. I don't think the lesbian content will put off the reader. Or rather, I can't imagine that reaction. It probably exists, but I can't imagine it.

When I came across an episode of Tipping the Velvet on BBC America channel a few years ago, I felt as though someone had given me a substantial box of high quality bonbons. Victorian costume lesbian soft core soap opera?!! Why yes, my id would like that. I am old enough to be a little scandalized that it would actually be produced for television. Which only added to my enjoyment. --Jenine

Bitty said...

The Life of Pi took the prize in 2002, and I'd like to know if Jenine considers it the worthier piece of literature.

One of my clever friends built a course around this question. She had her class read all the finalists for a particular prize (don't remember which one), with an eye toward debating this question at the end.

I finally picked up The Blind Assassin last night and am about 30 pages in. If you knew how little time I have right now (and why on earth am I gone a'blogging?) you'd be impressed that I got that much done. I'm sorry to hear it's a bit wearing. I wonder if that's due to sheer length.

Anonymous said...

I retract my earlier Atwood huffiness. I finished the book yesterday evening and all is forgiven. It comes together really beautifully at the end. I don't know if the tediousness I experienced 3/4 of the way through is intentional or not. But I would hate to dissuade other readers from The Blind Assassin.


Bitty said...

I retract my earlier Atwood huffiness. I finished the book yesterday evening and all is forgiven.

Thanks for the update, although I wasn't too worried since it, um, won the Booker Prize and all.

Five hundred and some pages IS a lot to ask of busy people. ;)

Bee said...


So GLAD you don't remember your wedding weekend being marred by my baby's incessant Crying.

"Tipping the Velvet" is a fantastically evocative title isn't, it? And yes, I get constant confirmation that I did indeed grow up in the Baptist Bible Belt when I am amazed by brave BBC programming choices.

I am about 50 pages into the Atwood, and glad that you are giving me some incentive to carry on . . . because my next slim Coetzee is highly tempting!

I really like your friend's "worthy literature" debate. On one hand, it is kind of like the Best Picture Academy Award thing. How do you compare apples and oranges? But on the other hand, it does raise interesting questions as to which criteria we apply to literature in order to deem it worthy or classic or "canonical." I would love to be in that classroom because I'm always up for that kind of debate!

Also, thanks for dropping in . . . especially since you don't have the time! I have left more comments for you on Mad Men and Shakespeare's Mistress -- back on the "back porch," that is.