(British, 1966– )
Sarah Waters writes well-plotted historical fiction which is full of convincing detail. Her central characters are women, and lesbian love affairs play an important role in the stories. Start with Fingersmith (2002, Booker shortlisted). In London in 1862, Susan Trinder is a young orphan raised by thieves and set up to con an heiress out of her fortune. Two very different first-person voices lead us compellingly into an underworld of petty theft, deception, and sudden death, and a gothic but all-too-real Victorian madhouse. Part Two presents an astonishing plot reversal. In Tipping the Velvet (1998) the heroine, seeking a life of sensation, befriends a music-hall male impersonator, and enters the lesbian and queer demi-monde of the 1890s. Affinity (1999), set in the women's wards of a Victorian prison, finds a lady visitor drawn to the story of a seemingly innocent inmate, spiritualist Selina Dawes. Again the characters are vividly realized through first-person narrative.
Patricia Highsmith, Wilkie Collins, Philippa Gregory JR