A few years ago I saw Sarah Waters do a reading from “Fingersmith”, her second novel. I really enjoyed it and bought the book on the spot. I had already seen the TV adaptation of “Tipping the Velvet” which I wasn’t mad about to be honest, but I couldn’t put “Fingersmith” down. It was amazing and I went on to buy it for a few friends, it’s still my favourite book. I subsequently held my breath when it’s TV adaptation was released but to my delighted it was great, not nearly as good as the book but a really enjoyable drama.
Last night I settled down to watch the TV adaptation of her third offering, “Affinity”. I read the book a few years ago and enjoyed it so I was interested to see how Andrew Davies would write it for the screen. Not an easy undertaking when a book involves séances, spirituality and apparently uncontrollable spirits.
The basic outline of the tale is that of Margaret Prior, a lady who lives in Victorian London with her mother who is putting her under pressure to marry a man who sees himself as her perfect match. Margaret, however, is trying to get over the loss of her girlfriend who has married her brother!!! Heartbroken over this as well as the death of her father, she volunteers to be a “lady visitor” at Millbank women’s prison. There she meets the enigma that is Selina Dawes, a self professed medium who has been incarcerated for fraud and assault. Is Selina what she seems or is our heroine being manipulated? I won’t ruin the story by saying any more.
Waters is a master at creating characters with whom we empathise and find ourselves routing for no matter what. Margaret is no exception and the essence of her was not lost in this version. We find ourselves cheering her on and hoping that after all the pain she has been through she has finally found someone to share herself with.
The acting was superb with Amanda Plumber having a great cameo as the prison guard. The atmosphere the prison itself set up was gripping and the spiritual side of the story was captured wonderfully, all in all I thought it was a good adaptation although I would recommend the book more. Nothing on film can quite capture our imaginations in the same way as a book can grib us totally. Waters has always created worlds for us in which we become totally immersed and “Affinity” is no exception.
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