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Die Muschelöffnerin

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  42,679 Ratings  ·  1,899 Reviews
"Die Muschelöffnerin", ein fesselnder, vielschichtiger und erotischer Liebesroman, spielt in der viktorianischen (Halb-) Welt der wilden 1890er Jahre und erzählt von der schillernden Karriere der Nancy Astley: Als Kind arbeitet sie als Muschelöffnerin im elterlichen Austernrestaurant an der Küste von Kent. Zu ihren wenigen Vergnügungen zählen die Besuche in der Music Hall ...more
Paperback, 578 pages
Published 2002 by Daphne-Verl. (first published February 5th 1998)
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Arukiyomi Well, that depends on how you define "historical." This is emphatically not a historical description of lesbian life in Victorian Britain. In fact, I…moreWell, that depends on how you define "historical." This is emphatically not a historical description of lesbian life in Victorian Britain. In fact, I think it's probably embellished that a great deal. It's very much focussed on sexual longing and its physical expression. Whatever romance there is (and there's precious little with many of the relationships Nancy ends up having) is definitely secondary to sex.(less)
Spencer Sharpe are you still working on this? Ivan E Coyote has some good novels. "Freak Boy" by Kristin Elizabeth Clark features a genderqueer main character &…moreare you still working on this? Ivan E Coyote has some good novels. "Freak Boy" by Kristin Elizabeth Clark features a genderqueer main character & several trans secondary characters; "The Miseducation of Cameron Post" is mostly about a cis lesbian, but there is a two-spirit character pretty central to the plot; "The Creamsickle" by Rhiannon Argo features gender non conforming and trans people. (less)

Community Reviews

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La Petite Américaine
It's not often that I like a book, so listen up and listen well.

If someone had given me the bare bones outline of Tipping the Velvet and suggest I read it, I'd have kindly told them to piss off. I have a job, a kid to raise, and an already low tolerance for contemporary fiction. A book about cross-dressing lesbians in Victorian England wouldn't spark enough interest in me to get past the title page.

Silly me. Good thing I thought that "tipping the velvet" was a reference to the theater (hint: it'
Dec 30, 2010 Tatiana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people curious about this sort of thing
Recommended to Tatiana by: 1001 Must Read list
Shelves: historical, 1001, 2010
As seen on The Readventurer

Well, I definitely have never read anything like this before. I dare you to read this book's synopsis and not get curious at least a little bit. The moment I set my eyes on a short description of Tipping the Velvet on the 1001 Must Read Before You Die Books list, I knew I had to read it. Cross-dressing lesbians, kept women, music hall singers, renter "boys" - I mean, what's not to like?

First and foremost, this is a book about lesbians (my first!) and written by one at
Aug 15, 2010 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Not anyone really, but I won't stop you from reading it either.
Recommended to Amanda by: From Coventry's "take my books" party

I knew that's all you wanted to hear about. I'm going to go on with my review, but you're welcome to stop reading now that you know the juicy stuff. And no, I will not go on to describe, in dripping detail, any of the aforementioned LESBIAN SEX SCENES. For shame, I know.

So anyway, a while back, my friend Coventry had piles and piles of books she was giving away and this was one of them. Seeing that it was written by Sarah Waters, I nabbed it immediately and placed upon my sh
I’m a straight white male living in the conservative heartland of America who likes reading about the Civil War and drinking cheap white wine (sometimes with ice cubes in the glass). Thus, when Sarah Waters sits down to write her novels, I am likely not the intended audience for which she spins her yarns. Possibly, I am the furthest thing from it.

Nevertheless, I stumbled upon her most recent book, The Paying Guests, at the end of 2014, when it began appearing on all the year-end ten-best lists.
Jan 11, 2017 Fabian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Call it the lesbian "Maurice."

Girl meets girl... then another one... and then another. Odd that in the late 19th century England so many lesbians would all be out and about strolling the dirty streets. Even odder still that the heroine of the novel stumbles upon them all.

This took considerable research, I'm sure, and how cool is it to get this particular point of view?! The biggest mistake, however, was to give the narrative the first-person touch: making Nan King into a Bella-from-"Twilight"-
Stacia (the 2010 club)
Nov 06, 2012 Stacia (the 2010 club) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stacia (the 2010 club) by: Buddy read with Regina
"I feel like I've been repeating other people's speeches all my life. Now, when I want to make a speech, I hardly know how."
"If you are fretting over how to tell me you are leaving-"
"I am fretting," I said, "over how to tell you how I love you; over how to say that you are the world to me."

3.5 stars. This was my first foray into the writing of Sarah Waters. According to my friends, I have been missing out on some great lit. Now I'm no longer out of the loop!

Tipping the Velvet follows a young
Apr 27, 2008 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It appears that currently the most common criticism of this book on goodreads is that it seems formulaic. Perhaps I am behind the times, but when did eloquent lesbian coming of age stories set in England 200 years ago become so commonplace as to even HAVE a formula?

Ultimately this is a love story embedded in a fluid tale of heart-pounding and heart-breaking moments over the course of Nan's life. Either the girl gets the girl/boy in the end, or the girl doesn't...predicting the ending with a fift
Oct 04, 2016 Frankie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dont-like, audiobook, 2016, uk
Awful. Terrible. Boring.

First half of the book was better than the last half for sure.

I know Sarah Waters books are a bit slow but jesus christ. So fucking boring!
And that was with all the change and different stages/people in her (Nancys) life

I listened to the audiobook in work over 2 weeks. I can now officially get rid of my physical copy because i never want to read or recommend this book to anyone. So glad i didnt choose to actually read the physical book.

So impatient with this story.
Feb 24, 2016 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of oysters and pants
So maybe I Googled "literary smut." So?

In the comments below my friends are all like, "and this is the best Google could do?" They're appalled. My friends have high smut standards? But the thing about the 1800s is they were basically the least smutty time in history, so a dildo goes a long way in that setting.

And that is Sarah Waters' goal, no mistake: she wants to bring smut back to the Victorians. Girl-on-girl smut, to be exact. In her own words, "lesbo Victorian romps." Certainly there were
Nov 14, 2015 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bonnie by: 1001 Books to Read Before You Die
Interested in more of my reviews? Visit my blog!

4.5 stars
Sarah Water’s debut novel set in 1890s London is a delightfully shocking tale of exploring the boundaries of gender roles in the Victorian era. It's about finding out who you really are and being comfortable in your own skin and about overcoming heartache and finding love again.

The Storyline
’And was there at her side a slender, white-faced, unremarkable-looking girl, with the sleeves of her dress rolled up to her elbows, and a lock of lank
A friend once told me she doesn't like historical lesfic because the sex is so underwhelming and I agree. Until I read this book. ;) An amazon reviewer calls it 'Victorian porn'--sounds like an oxymoron, doesnt it? Unabashed eroticism in a period of prudishness and high morality. In the context of modern lesfic, this book isn't much more erotic than our usual diet of lesfic romances. But perhaps the idea of same sex relationships, and some of the more risque situations and uhm...maneuvers made r ...more
Mar 17, 2010 Rainbow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because I read and loved Fingersmith. But Tipping the Velvet is way, way different. It's basically a really vivid -- ultimately romantic -- coming-out story about a girl in Victorian England. Sarah Waters is an incredible writer and even better storyteller.
Oct 17, 2016 Mel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of historical and/or lesbian fiction
Recommended to Mel by: Alexis Hall
My review on Prism Book Alliance...

Lambda Literary Award winner in 2000, TIPPING THE VELVET tells the story of young Nancy Astley.
She first finds her way from the simple life of an oyster girl, still living with her parents, to London in the 1880s, following her heart and the woman who caught it, into a live of performance and glamour and love.
Later on, she discovers her sexuality in the hands of another woman, a rich lady who takes Nancy in as a kept girl.
In the end, however, after ups and down
I wish there were more books like this story out there. Stories about groups of people in past time periods that have previously not been written about are very interesting. We seem to have an uncountable number of books about rich debutantes and heiresses during the Victorian era but not many about working class oyster girls, performers and lesbians. And I am on the record saying I want more books about oyster girls, performers and lesbians -- of any era.

Tipping the Velvet can be generically d
Emily  O
When I first picked up this novel, I was expecting an exciting romp through Victorian England, complete with lesbians, a little sex, and lots of adventure. I wasn't exactly looking for a piece of classic literature. On that account, this book succeeded marvelously.

Tipping the Velvet is the story of young Nancy Astley, who grew up cooking oysters at her parents shop and occasionally visiting the nearby theater/dance hall. There she meets Kitty Butler, a "masher," or male impersonator, with whom s
Jul 22, 2007 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was first made aware of this book by the BBC miniseries, which played on BBC America last year. My wife and I liked it, and I got my wife the novel for her birthday, and ever since Sept. she has been bugging me to read the novel. With the DVD coming out, I decided to finally read it. Wow. Lemme say that again: Wow.

First of all, Sarah Waters is an amazing writer that from now on will forever remain on the Favorites list at my house. Tipping the Velvet is a great debut novel by a great writer, a
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
Here is me reading this book:

Part 1: Yes!
Part 2: Whaaaa?
Part 3: Um, okay.

Be warned: there be spoilers below. This book has a very clear and traditional structure, so once you recognize its contours there aren't many surprises, but my review gives away a lot.

Tipping the Velvet seems to have a reputation as some kind of lesbian erotica. (That got your attention, didn't it?) The cover features a pair of strippers*, the blurb praises the book as "erotic," and even the title, as it turns out, is a Vi
Caro M.
What enchanted me most in this book was the language. Waters is just so so good! You have to read it for this, if not for the story. And Victorian London looks very real without too many tiresome descriptions.

Our narrator, Nancy, falls for a girl, a cross-dressing singer. She leaves her home town by the sea, makes a career, of sorts, in London, then everything changes for her and then everything changes for her again. And again. It's all very well written and unexpected turns come one after anot
Corbin Dodge
Apr 27, 2008 Corbin Dodge rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The Gothic Victorian Lesbian genre does exist! In fact, there could not be a more perfect description of Sarah Waters' novels. Part Dickinsonian, part erotica, part mystery, her characters in 'Tipping the Velvet' explore the sexually mischievious underworld of London in the late 1800's. That being said, I'm still quite critical of this book.

The novel was slow to pick-up until about 10 pages before book 2. Before that I was having to convince myself that hanging in there was going to be worth the
Sarah Sammis
Jun 08, 2007 Sarah Sammis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: released
I was unimpressed with the book. Sarah Waters appears to be a one note writer. Sure, she changes the setting and the time period but her cardboard cutout characters are the same. There is always the naive young woman who falls for the more worldly but jaded woman and learns of the forbidden love only to scare her new soul mate straight! There you go, that's the twist to every one of Waters's books that I've read so you might as well save yourself the time and read something better.

Also in Tippin
Nov 02, 2014 BrokenTune rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
4.5* really, but not quite 5*

"And last of all I had a fondness – you might say, a kind of passion – for the music hall; and more particularly for music-hall songs and the singing of them. If you have visited Whitstable you will know that this was a rather inconvenient passion, for the town has neither music hall nor theatre – only a solitary lamp-post before the Duke of Cumberland Hotel, where minstrel troupes occasionally sing, and the Punch-and-Judy man, in August, sets his booth."

Delicious, s
else fine
My coworker dubbed this "Victorian Dildos for Dummies" and now it's all I can think of when I look at the cover.

Nice details and lovely descriptions provide a slightly hollow framework for the book's bland protagonist as she explores the various lesbian subcultures of Victorian London. Given the book's sensational characteristics - cross dressing stage performers! jaded lesbian orgies! socialists! male prostitutes! - it's surprisingly boring. I admired the research but couldn't give a shit abou
Feb 13, 2016 Carla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Um fresco irreverente da Londres Vitoriana onde seguimos o percurso camaleónico de Nancy Astley, um percurso de descoberta da sexualidade, de decadência e de redenção.

Wilton's music hall
Liina Bachmann
Aug 09, 2016 Liina Bachmann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I'm a sucker for all things Victorian era and this is an extraordinarily fresh take on the subject. I will not do the "blurb" here because you can read the book introduction for that. I will just say that I usually read books with relatively low entertainment level, mostly classics or novels where story isn't *the* main thing that carries it. "Tipping the Velvet" is a pure form of entertainment and it highly succeeds in that. Plus you get a good picture of infamously prude Victorians from anothe ...more
Sep 26, 2016 Ygraine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i felt strangely (or perhaps, not so strangely) heartbroken when i had to close this book. i forget, i think, how much i need fictional spaces that speak with tenderness and care of the thousands of ways that women can love women. i forget how deeply i feel their friendships and their intimacies and their fierce loves, how hungry i am to be reminded of the jealousies and all the hurts that a life accumulates, gathers to itself and nurses, but of the healing too, of falling in love again and agai ...more
Don't be put off because you don't like Victorian literature. If you're like me, and you enjoy lesbian fiction, and you enjoy blunt, realistic depictions of sex and relationships, you'll like this book. Waters has a fabulous narrative style and she plays with sex and gender in this book in a fabulous way. Unlike many lesbian novels, it has a satisfying ending, and though it's long, the length is necessary to negotiate the differing approaches she presents to lesbianism, sex, and relationships. R ...more
helen the bookowl
This book was a pleasant surprise to me because it was so different from what I normally read. I knew that Sarah Waters publishes a lot of LGTB literature, and I had heard many amazing things about this specific book, so I eventually decided to pick it up.
I was in love with the beginning. Nancy and her family and their life of oysters were adorable. Even though Nancy herself was a bit bored with her life, I loved reading about it, and I loved how the story progressed with the beautiful introduc
Wendy Darling
Absorbing and complex. I loved the descriptions of Nan's early life as an "oyster girl" and how she gradually discovers who she is and how she fits into her Victorian world.
Her Royal Orangeness
Set in Victorian England, “Tipping the Velvet” is about the sexual awakening of Nancy Astley/Nan King. The book follows her journey from an innocent young woman falling in love with a cross-dressing music hall performer, to her escapades as a transvestite prostitute, to her experience as an s&m slave of a wealthy woman.

Two things bothered me greatly about “Tipping the Velvet.” One, women are often only attracted to other women if they are dressed as men, and men are only attracted to other
Jan 07, 2010 El rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If Charles Dickens were a woman writing today I have a feeling he would be Sarah Waters.

Late 19th century England, following the life of Nancy, a small-town young woman in the oyster business with her family. She falls for a male impersonator, Kitty Butler, and ultimately runs off to join Kitty on the stage. From there it's a series of women loves and infatuations. There's some hot, lesbian lovin' here - and yes, I do believe Dickens would make a great lesbian writer today.

I'm not sure what I in
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Sarah Waters is a British novelist. She is best known for her first novel, Tipping the Velvet, as well the novels that followed, including Affinity, Fingersmith, and The Night Watch.

Waters attended university, earning degrees in English literature. Before writing novels Waters worked as an academic, earning a doctorate and teaching. Waters went directly from her doctoral thesis to her first novel.
More about Sarah Waters...

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“Being in love, you know... it's not like having a canary, in a cage. When you lose one sweetheart, you can't just go out and get another to replace her.” 52 likes
“When I see her,” I said, “it’s like - I don’t know what it’s like. It’s like I never saw anything at all before. It’s like I am filling up, like a wine-glass when it’s filled with wine. I watch the acts before her and they are like nothing - they’re like dust. Then she walks on the stage and - she is so pretty; and her suit is so nice; and her voice is so sweet… She makes me want to smile and weep, at once. She makes me sore, here.” I placed a hand upon my chest, upon the breast-bone. “I never saw a girl like her before. I never knew that there were girls like her…” My voice became a trembling whisper then, and I found that I could say no more. There was another silence. I opened my eyes and looked at Alice - and knew at once that I shouldn’t have spoken; that I should have been as dumb and as cunning with her as with the rest of them. There was a look on her face - it was not ambiguous at all now - a look of mingled shock, and nervousness, and embarrassment or shame. I had said too much. I felt as if my admiration for Kitty Butler had lit a beacon inside me, and opening my unguarded mouth had sent a shaft of light into the darkened room, illuminating all. I had said too much - but it was that, or say nothing.” 40 likes
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