Elaine's Reviews > Tipping the Velvet

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
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Jul 19, 12

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Sarah Waters knows how to turn a phrase. Her heroine, Nance, knows how to turn a trick. or two, or three, often in the same night. She leaves her loving family--not bothering to contact them for years. even when she hears that her father has taken the difficult trip from Kent to London searching for her. Oh, yeah, I understand that she's loathe to tell them that she's in the sex trade, making her living from homosexual men who think she's a boy and homosexual women delighted that she isn't.

Waters seems to know a lot about thd seaminess of Victorian England. Males and females on the prowl incessantly looking for strangers to fornicate with, preferably not in the missionary position. Miraculously--and unbelievably--given the sadism prevalent in street sex--Nance rarely gets hurt, much less killed as young females in the sex trade often were. She even does without a pimp.

The vicissitudes of Nance's life, getting thrown out of her lodgings--or leaving them piqued--rarely inconvenience her. In true Dickensian style, she rises from ths muck smelling like a rose.

At first. one is gripped by the story,but midway the author resorts to unlikely coincidences and unbelievable chance encounters with people Nance had met earlier. who often turn out to be toms like her. Despite the superb writing, the novel ceased to let me suspend disbelief, and the grand finale left me gagging
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