After her father's death, Margaret Prior becomes despondent. Before he died, she was to have gone to Italy with him and her friend, Helen, with whom Margaret was in love with. Now Helen is married to Margaret's brother and their sister, Priscilla is also getting married. Her physician suggests that Margaret become a Lady Visitor at Millbank Prison, to be a comfort and example to the women. Margaret meets several of the prisoners and becomes obsessed with one, Selina Dawes, a spiritualist imprisoned for fraud.
I don't want to say much more about the plot for fear of giving something away. But let me say that I loved this book. It takes place in Victorian London, it has a Dickensian prison and wardens. It has psychics and mediums. Margaret is a lonely character. She does not want to marry or have children. She is haunted by her love for Helen and desperately sad over the loss of her intellectual father, the only one who understood her.
Margaret's story alternates with that of Selina's and we see how she ended up in prison.
Though I was not a fan of Waters' The Little Stranger which everyone else raved about, I thought Affinity was incredibly well-written, with fleshed out characters and a brilliant plot. Her descriptions of Millbank Prison, the matrons in charge of the women prisoners, and the prisoners themselves are very well researched, as are stories of the spiritualist community.
This book is a must, must read! It is very atmospheric and Gothic-like. In case I didn't mention it, I loved it.
my rating 5/5