Affinity is based around the mysterious world of Victorian spiritualism. It is much darker than Waters' other books; Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith. The author has said herself that
It was a very gloomy world to have to go into every dayThe story follows Margaret Prior, a lady who becomes a visitor at the dark and opressing Millbank Prison. She becomes increasingly close to one inmate, Selina Dawes; a disgraced spiritualist who soon encaptures Miss Prior's heart and mind. The book jumps from the present relationship that the women have to the events leading up to Selina's imprisonment. The reader is given the task of deciding whether Miss Dawes is a fraud or if she does truly have spiritual powers.
The imagery in the book is excellent and the description of Millbank with it's dark corridors and damp, limestone walls really do make you feel quite stifled. I think that this is why I found the book quite difficult to read; it may sound strange but it really did not feel quite right reading it on a bright, sunny day in the garden!
It has taken me quite a while to get through it and Affinity is not a pleasant book but Waters' writing is excellent. She creates extremely complex characters and the plot has many hidden surprises which make you want to ge back through Millbank's heavy gates to find out more.