An upper-class woman recovering from a suicide attempt, Margaret Prior has begun visiting the women’s ward of Millbank prison, Victorian London’s grimmest jail, as part of her rehabilitative charity work. Amongst Millbank’s murderers and common thieves, Margaret finds herself increasingly fascinated by on apparently innocent inmate, the enigmatic spiritualist Selina Dawes. Selina was imprisoned after a séance she was conducting went horribly awry, leaving an elderly matron dead and a young woman deeply disturbed. Although initially skeptical of Selina’s gifts, Margaret is soon drawn into a twilight world of ghosts and shadows, unruly spirits and unseemly passions, until she is at last driven to concoct a desperate plot to secure Selina’s freedom, and her own.
As in her noteworthy deput, Tipping the Velvet, Sarah Waters brilliantly evokes the sights and smells of a moody and beguiling nineteenth-century London, and proves herself yet again a storyteller, in the words of the New York Times Book Review, of ""startling power."" A tale that will leave readers ""transfixed with horror and excitement"" (Daily Mail, London) Affinity, in its accomplishment and sophistication, leaves no doubt as to this writer's considerable gifts.
“[Affinity] confirms Waters’ uncanny gift for establishing an instant connection between her readers and her flawed yet compelling central protagonists…she’s a novelist of major rank [who] probes into questions of difference and susceptibility, privilege and confinement, betrayal and loss—and there are few young writers out there who can match it.” —The Seattle Times
“The novel takes numerous surprising twists and turns before the startling resolution…superb…Waters pulls out all the stops.” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“If lesbian fiction is to reach a wider readership, Waters is the person to carry the banner.”—The New York Times Book Review
“The author of Tipping the Velvet displays her incredible talent for the Gothic historical novel in this splendid book about a Victorian women’s prison and the affair there between an inmate and a ‘lady visitor.’” —The San Francisco Chronicle
“Unfolds sinuously and ominously…a powerful plot-twister. The book is multidimensional: a naturalistic look at Victorian society; a truly suspenseful tale of terror; and a piece of elegant, thinly veiled erotica…Like a Ouija board, Affinity offers different messages to different readers, scaring the shrouds off everyone in the process.”—USA Today
“Waters has perfect pitch in her representations of bourgeois Victorian life, the puritanical misery of prisons in the 1870s, and the spiritualist subculture…a deeply absorbing book.” —The Advocate