"A library doesn't need windows. A library is a window." – Stewart Brand

May 13, 2013

Read Something! AFFINITY by Sarah Waters

Sarah Waters

Historical fiction / literary fiction / horror

Surfacing from a deep depression brought on by her father's death, Margaret Prior takes a family friend's advice and volunteers as a "lady visitor" at Millbank, a women's prison, where she hopes to become a positive influence on some of the inmates. In those dreary surroundings she meets the spiritualist medium Selina Dawes, sentenced to Millbank after a seance gone wrong resulted in a woman's death. Margaret and Selina are drawn to each other, but does Selina really talk to spirits? And what really happened in her past? Alternating passages from Margaret and Selina's diaries bring us closer and closer to the truth of the night that drastically changed Selina's life - and to a night that will forever change Margaret's. This is a dark, psychological novel about loss and grief, and about living in a world into which one will never quite fit neatly.

Slight warnings for mentions of attempted suicide, some nonexplicit but non-"vanilla" eroticism.

  • The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters - similar slightly spooky atmosphere, unreliable narrators; both stories are deliberately vague as to the reality of the ghosts/spirits (at least for most of the narrative); both set in Britain in times past; both very focused on characters' psychology
  • "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman - potentially unbalanced female narrators, similar time setting, themes of entrapment/imprisonment and haunting, atmospherically similar

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