When I read Fingersmith during the summer I had no idea there was a BBC mini series of this book. You can read my short review on the book here.
Now I have both read the book and watched the TV-adaptation I can't help but compare.
Because it was quite a while ago since I read the book I started the series unprejudiced. The general plot points I could still remember, but not so much details.
The first thing that struck me is how close this series stays to the book. While watching I was recalling more and more scenes from the book. I also thought the general atmosphere was captured beautifully. The Victorian London looked exactly like I had pictured it in my mind. Although after a while it struck me that we kept seeing images of the same street over and over again from the same angle; they could have easily fixed that and varied the camera angle a bit, so it wouldn't be so obvious that was the extend of the set.
The cast was pretty good. I thought Elaine Cassidy was an exceptionally good Maud Lily; she looks the beautiful lady with poor nerves, and she plays her character really well. Sally Hawkins as Sue Trinder was also quite good, but as I have a problem with Sue as character, I didn't really feel for her. Rupert Evans ("Gentleman" was exactly the arrogant bastard he should be. The only character I didn't particularly like were Mrs. Sucksby (Imelda Stauton). For some reason her acting felt a little bit off. It didn't correlate with the story as it should be. Her emotions seemed too played and fake.
The way the story was presented was very clever. In the book we follow only one person at a time, so the thoughts of the other characters stay a secret, and then read the same scene only this time from another characters eyes. In the series this is mimicked by presenting the same scenes again, only this time with extra shots that add the view of a different character. I thought this was done very smoothly, the repetitive scenes didn't feel awkward at all.
Of course, the series wasn't as detailed as the 600+ pages book, but for a screen adaptation it came really close. It was very enjoyable to watch, also for people who have not read the book. There were some differences, but all of them minor. I loved to see the romance unfold on screen; it actually was better than it was in the book. In the book I kept feeling like I was missing something, some connection. The book left more of an impression in some places, like in the asylum, but then again, it is really hard to show the ultimate desperateness and madness an asylum brings in twenty minutes.
Overall, it was a great mini series that stays true to the book.