My first Sarah Waters's novel was the unimpressive The Night Watch
which felt a bit like a B-movie with creaky dialogue. By comparison Fingersmith
rises far above what could have been a mere pastiche of 19th century sensation novels. Instead influences from Defoe to the Brontes to Le Fanu to Wilkie Collins are organically absorbed into a story about identity, theft, trust and madness, and oh yeah, the place of women in a society that constrains them. (In a madhouse, a woman's hair is not only braided but then sewn to her head.)
Literate and a thumping good read.