Fingersmith (2005)

Fingersmith is a BBC mini-series that was televised in 2005, which is an adaptation of Sarah Water’s novel, who’s also the author of Tipping the Velvet.

The lives of two young women collide in Victorian England when a trio of ‘fingersmiths’ (pick-pockets) concoct an elaborate scam to defraud a young heiress of her inheritance. The story alternates between the twisting back alleyways of Dickensian London and the cloistered gloom of a Gothic mansion in 1862.

Sally Hawkins as Sue Trinder
Elaine Cassidy as Maud Lily
Imelda Staunton as Mrs. Sucksby
Rupert Evans as Richard ‘Gentleman’ Rivers
Charles Dance as Uncle Lilly

Sue Trinder is a Fingersmith (British slang for thief) who lives at Lant street in London with Mrs. Sucksby, a woman who looks after unwanted babies and orphans.

Maud Lily is raised by the nurses in the mental asylum where her mother died. When she was 11, her uncle brought her to Briar to be his secretary. She has to wear gloves to preserve the surfaces of the books she is working on.

Richard Rivers aka Gentleman has befriended a young lady, Maud who is going to inherit a great fortune when she marries. But Richard’s access to Maud is very limited because of her uncle and hence he wants Sue to be accepted as her new maid. Sue’s task is to gain Maud’s trust and to persuade her to marry him. Richard told Sue that after he married Maud, he’ll have her committed to a mental asylum and he’ll take her fortune.

I like Tipping the Velvet better than this. I still question where her uncle was after she got married. It didn’t tell me that he died, or something. He disappeared without reason. Sarah Waters storyline (always) includes poverty, judging from the previous novel she has written, Tipping the Velvet. If you’ve read or watched it, you’ll know what I meant (if you haven’t watched Tipping the Velvet, I may as well tell the storyline and review it).

Watching these mini-series made me think of the life of a lady in the Victorian time. Were the ladies really being treated like how Sue has treated Maud?

Sue is an orphan, Maud is raised by the nurse at mental asylum where her mother died. They’re actually switched at birth, which also means that Maud’s real name is Sue Trinder and Sue’s name is Maud Lily?!?

What touched me the most is when Mrs. Sucksby confessed to the murder she didn’t commit as she felt guilty for how she has deceived the two girls. While Maud was the one who killed Richard. Maud said she killed him, but they didn’t believe it because she’s a lady. Mrs. Sucksby was the only one who could tell the truth, but she refused.