Her Royal Orangeness's Reviews > Tipping the Velvet

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
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Jul 17, 14

bookshelves: 2012, author-waters, authors-i-heart, hf-19th-century
Read from August 08 to 11, 2012

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 men if they are young boys (or women pretending to be young boys). Two, the vast majority of the sexual encounters are perverse, vulgar, and selfish. Not to get on a soapbox about this, but don’t straight people already have enough of a skewed perspective about homosexuality without giving them the kind of evidence provided in this book? I really don’t understand what Sarah Waters was trying to accomplish (or why this book won the Lambda Literary Award for lesbian fiction).

Also, the story arch and the character development are not well done. You know that game where you try to keep a balloon aloft, with each player tapping the balloon to prevent it from hitting the ground? Nan King’s life is like that balloon. She floats through life, continually batted to and fro by circumstances. She seems to have no will, no personality….she just bounces from one thing to the next as situations present themselves.

The author does have talent - she’s a gifted storyteller and she does well at creating a sense of time and place. Despite being mostly annoyed the whole time I was reading, I enjoyed the book….if that makes any sense. I like Sarah Waters' writing style, and I certainly plan to read more of her work. But I wouldn’t recommend “Tipping the Velvet” to anyone.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Ashley (new) - added it

Ashley Brown I would say that Tipping the Velvet is my least favourite of Sarah Waters' work. Fingersmith is much better, in my opinion.


Her Royal Orangeness Fingersmith is also on the bookshelf. I'll get around to it one of these days!


message 3: by Hannah (new) - added it

Hannah Fullmer I know what you mean about some books just making a stereotype worse. One author who I think does a great job portraying a gay character is Val McDerm in The Distant Echo. I wish I could recommend that to everyone. :p


message 4: by Hannah (new) - added it

Hannah Fullmer Val Mcdermid....


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