Saturday, February 15, 2014

Quote Storm: Fingersmith

I reread my review of Fingersmith and realized that I made the book sound just super-dreary.  Which it is.  But, there is a surprising amount of humor in Sue's frank descriptions of her thieving lifestyle, early in the book.  I'm including a few examples of that here, along with a few other quotes that caught my eye.  

And another thing about Waters - you don't realize just how complicated her sentence structure can get until you attempt to correctly type out a paragraph or two!


Sue, the young pickpocket, talking about reading and writing:

I believe I learned my alphabet, like that: not by putting letters down, but by taking them out (removing identifying monograms from stolen goods).  I know I learned the look of my own name, from handkerchiefs that came, marked Susan.  As for regular reading, we never troubled with it.  Mrs. Sucksby could do it, if she had to; Mr. Ibbs could read, and even write; but, for the rest of us, it was an idea - well, I should say, like speaking Hebrew or throwing somersaults: you could see the use of it, for Jews and tumblers; but while it was their lay, why make it yours?


Training Sue to act as a lady's maid for their scheme:

'Why don't she wear the kind of stays that fasten at the front, like a regular girl?' said Dainty, watching.  

'Because then,' said Gentleman, 'she shouldn't need a maid. And if she didn't need a maid, she shouldn't know she was a lady. Hey?' He winked.


On husbands:

She hummed along until her eyes grew damp, and then the hum got broken.  Her husband had been a sailor, and been lost at sea. - Lost to her, I mean.  He lived in the Bermudas.


On servants and their masters:

I should never have put her down as the motherly sort, myself; but servants grow sentimental over the swells they work for, like dogs grow fond of bullies.You take my word for it.


Sue, justifying her part in scamming Miss Lilly (Maud), which is all the more delicious as Maud is actually double-crossing Sue:

And then, say I gave it all up - how would that save Maud? Say I went home: Gentleman would go on and marry her, and lock her up anyway.  Or, say I peached him up. He would be sent from Briar, Mr. Lilly would keep her all the closer - she might as well be put in a madhouse, then. Either way, I didn't say much to her chances.

But her chances had all been dealt to her, years before. She was like a twig on a rushing river. She was like milk - too pale, too pure, too simple. She was made to be spoiled.


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