Books by Sarah Waters

Her first novel, Tipping the Velvet, won a 1999 Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Mail on Sunday / John Llewelyn Rhys Prize. She was inspired to write it while working on her PhD thesis on lesbian historical fiction that underlined the inadeq


THE PAYING GUESTS by Sarah Waters
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 16, 2014

"Waters keeps getting better, if that's even possible after the sheer perfection of her earlier novels."
An exquisitely tuned exploration of class in post-Edwardian Britain—with really hot sex. Read full book review >
THE LITTLE STRANGER by Sarah Waters
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: May 1, 2009

"Flawed but nevertheless often gripping thriller from one of the most interesting novelists at work today."
A sinister ancestral home in an advanced state of decay, a family terrorized by its own history, and a narrator drawn into these orbits dominate this creepy novel from Waters (The Night Watch, 2006, etc.). Read full book review >
THE NIGHT WATCH by Sarah Waters
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 23, 2006

"A cut below this author's superb earlier books, but very much worth reading."
Time runs backward, and memory tightens its grip on the variously involved characters of British author Waters's unusual fourth novel—a departure from her highly praised historicals Tipping the Velvet (1999), Affinity (2000) and Fingersmith (2002). Read full book review >
FINGERSMITH by Sarah Waters
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 4, 2002

" Nobody writing today surpasses the precocious Waters's virtuosic handling of narrative complexity and thickly textured period detail. This is a marvelous novel."
Imagine a university-educated lesbian Charles Dickens with a similarly keen eye for mendacity and melodrama, and you'll have some idea of the pleasures lurking in Waters's impudent revisionist historicals: Tipping the Velvet (1999), Affinity (2000), and now this richly woven tale of duplicity, passion, and lots of other good stuff. Read full book review >
AFFINITY by Sarah Waters
Released: June 5, 2000

"Waters has found a superb metaphor for the love that dares not speak its name, and developed it with remarkable ingenuity and power: another stunning performance by a young writer whose promise seems just about unlimited."
This ambitious second novel, a richly detailed exploration of the mysterious ‘affinity' that appears to unite two lonely women, boldly extends the range of the British writer (Tipping the Velvet, 1999). Read full book review >
TIPPING THE VELVET by Sarah Waters
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 1, 1999

Echoes of Tom Jones, Great Expectations, and anonymous confessional pornography resound throughout this richly entertaining first novel from England: the picaresque tale of its lesbian heroine's progress through several levels of both polite and refreshingly impolite Victorian society. Nancy Astley has been plucked away from her close-knit family of fishmongers in seaside Whitstable and whisked off to London as (unofficial) "dresser" to music-hall entertainer Kitty Butler——the girl what dresses up as a feller— and the first love of stagestruck Nancy's young life. Before she's 20, she's become the coquettish Kitty's lover and also her stage partner, "fellow" male impersonator "Nan King." All is bliss until Kitty protects her reputation by escaping into marriage, and the abandoned Nancy finds work posing as a male street prostitute (or "renter") and undergoing undreamt-of sexual permutations and indignities as the girl/boytoy of lustful widow Diana Lethaby (at the latter's posh mansion, Felicity Place, and among jaded members of the militantly sapphic Cavendish Club) before seeking, losing, then reclaiming true love with selfless "charity visitor" Florence Banner and finding her own voice as a fledgling Socialist. Marred only by a jerry-rigged conclusion in which the repentant Kitty is in effect punished for having concealed her sexuality, Waters's debut offers terrific entertainment: swiftly paced, crammed with colorful depictions of 1890s London and vividly sketched Dickensian supporting characters (Nancy's kindly parents recall the genial fisherfolk of David Copperfield), pulsating with highly charged (and explicitly presented) erotic heat. And Nancy's conflicted feelings—between the "desperate pleasures" to which she's drawn and her equally strong desire to become "a regular girl . . . again——are quite movingly delineated. A perfect fictional equivalent to such eye-opening standard works as Frank Harris's My Life and Loves and Steven Marcus's The Other Victorians—and a rather formidable debut. Read full book review >