Lisa's Reviews > The Crimson Petal and the White

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
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's review
Apr 21, 12

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2012, kindle-baby, own, faves, book-crushes, hist-fic, heroines-i-heart, interesting-women
Recommended for: Mum; Jade; Lynds; Gaye
Read from April 11 to 21, 2012 , read count: 1

Brilliant...Within moments after first picking this up I had been seduced and pulled completely into this book's spell, and for every moment that followed I wanted to be doing nothing other than reading this, becoming annoyed whenever anything pulled me away be it work, sleeping, eating...

A big, fat book that's more than worth the effort, we are pulled bodily into Victorian society and given a full look at all of the sorts of things that went unmentioned or glossed over in the Victorian literature I've previously read. Mostly following the fortunes of Sugar, a teenaged prostitute famous for submitting to absolutely anything, provided she's being paid, and her changing fortunes once she's made the exclusive mistress of a self-obsessed businessman, through whom we get a glimpse of all the various levels of Victorian society. This accounts largely for many of the book's strengths, as we are introduced to a wide and never uninteresting cast of supporting characters, be they servants, swells, madams, ladies, or even children, all of whom don't feel like characters but far more like real people.

The female characters were all the real stand-outs for me, particularly Agnes (the epitome of the mad wife locked in the attic), Emmeline Fox (an intelligent and compassionate woman, seeking to better the lives of London's many prostitutes through the Rescue Society), little Sophie Rackham (the ignored daughter, only allowed to observe rather than participate with the household) and, of course, Sugar herself.

Character rather than plot driven, I never wanted to not be reading and was left bereft on finishing (I would have happily read on for another year or two), particularly when it came to the open ending (leaving me to worry about what might become of Sophie and hoping Sugar wouldn't go down the path taken by her own mother). But then, how often in life do we get to know how everyone's story ends?

I'm so in love with this novel that I'm definitely going to head out and try some more of Faber's work, and I strongly suggest that you do the same.

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Reading Progress

04/15/2012 page 445
50.0% "I never want to be not reading this book."
04/21/2012 page 867
97.0% "Oooh.....go on Sugar!! How I hate thee, Rackham."

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Cecily One of my favourite books too, right from the opening as you say.

If you're tempted to read the collection of related short stories, The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories, I urge caution. I was profoundly disappointed. Not because it was awful (it wasn't) but because it lacked the wondrous language and killed much of the mystery.

Lisa This has reminded me that I haven't yet read any more Faber, so I am tempted indeed!

message 3: by Cecily (last edited Mar 17, 2015 06:23AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cecily I really couldn't recommend The Apple to anyone, but even though I'm not a big fan of short stories, his unrelated collection, Some Rain Must Fall, was excellent. Also, his novel, Under the Skin, was intriguingly odd and unsettling (and is apparently nothing like the recent film adaptation).

Lisa I think I may actually have a copy of Under The Skin hiding somewhere in my house (which is full of teetering piles of books!) and two weeks to fill, having been signed off work thanks to a shoddy back. I may have to make the most of the opportunity and hunt it down!

Cecily Ooh. I'm sorry about your back; I know how painful that can be. Under the Skin is slim enough that it's not difficult to hold.

I hope you recover soon.

PS Never apologise, even indirectly, for having more books than you have shelf space for. ;)

Lisa Thanks, Cecily :-)

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