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Tipping the Velvet
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September 2012 > Tipping the Velvet: The End

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Jill G. Here we are at the third, and final, section of the book. Nan has been an oyster girl, a theater star, a cross dressing renter, and a sex slave, and at the beginning of this section, seems to have hit rock bottom, having no one. What are your thoughts on the last adventures of Nan we get to see?

Karen A. | 13 comments Overall, I enjoyed the book.
As I've mentioned before I did not like Kitty's character at all, for all I know she just used Nan.
Nan's character on the other hand made me feel very different things. At the beginning of the book when she discovers her love for Kitty, she seems very sweet.
Later on, Nan becomes way too selfish. She completely forgets about her family (who had supported her all the way) and even when she knows she is treated as a slave (while living with Diana), she doesn't care, she just cares about material things.
In my opinion she starts acting a little bit more like a grownup when she starts living with Florence, although once again she's focusing on what she wants what she needs. (she doesn't even wonder what Florence did when Nan stood her up, until Florence tells her about Lily months later)
I'm surprised about the ending but in a good way, I thought she would end up leaving with Kitty, so it's good when she realizes that the one she loves is Flo, and chooses to stay with her, which also means that she finally gets to live her life out in the open.

Amy (folkpants) (folkpants) | 50 comments I think for me, the most interesting thing in the novel is Nan's wardrobe, and how she uses it, which defines her during the different stages of her life.

-The dresses and aprons of the oyster girl is the wardrobe of the opressed Nan. The Nan who doesn't realize there are other worlds to be discovered and other paths to follow than what she has known in the little restaurant by the sea.
-As Nan observes, meets, and finally becomes Kitty's partner, her wardrobe changes into that of the performance drag. She finds herself more comfortable in men's clothes, however, it is still at this point just an act, and is juxtaposed with the eventually insincere love she had with Kitty.
-Nan finds herself on the street with just her costumes. Her men's garment costumes, and then becomes a true actor herself. Playing the man and young boy as a renter on the streets. The assortment of roles and costumes she assumes at this time reflects the different roles she is willing to play for the johns and is neatly transitioned into the role she plays with Diana.
-Here, with Diana, Nan finds herself in her bought men's wardrobe. As she is bought and kept by Diana. (Oddly enough, during this portion of the novel, it is when Nan is naked- no wardrobe at all- that we find she really is at her weakest, and for me, most unlikable.) It isn't until Nan's wardrobe is stolen does she truely hit bottom and is most lost.
-Finally it is Nan's decision to wear men's clothes during her time living with Flo that she discovers her true self. Nan chooses to wear men's clothing here, not for the stage, a way to make money, or because she is being kept, but simply because it is comfortable- she is comfortable in these clothes. It is this decision, to finally be herself for her own sake, that Nan begins to be happy and comfortable with her life. And it is at this time when she realizes she has found love. Not the production of love she had with Kitty on the stage, but a true love. And for once, she is actually loved in return.
By showing us the various stages of Nan in drag and her different reasons for the drag at the time, Waters has created not only a wonderful idea of the evolution of one's sexuality, but also how one presents themselves in that sexuality. And how in the end, it was Nan's decision to live life dressed in men's clothes with no other reason than wanting to that she eventually finds, we assume, her happy ending.

message 4: by Jill (last edited Sep 20, 2012 10:58AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill G. Brava, Folksypantsy! *claps* What a wonderful analysis. You're right: while Nan's experiments/explorations of gender were one of my favorite things in the novel, I never thought to sit down and actually examine how her clothes worked as a physical representation of that, and of her resulting emotions/range of happiness and sadness. And thinking back now, it's clear that Waters really did give exquisite detail of all the clothing throughout. And yeah, it is the clothes that she seems most distraught about, after getting kicked out of Diana's. Ugh...what a dark portion of this book.

And Karen, I agree with you that I was also surprised, but happy, about the ending. I kept feeling like the whole book was just waiting for Kitty to come back into Nan's life, to be reunited with her "one true love," etc., but then everything about the last ten pages or so was just perfect for me. To realize that you can still have those intense feelings of love for someone, but to realize that they still can't give you what you need--(and therefore, it might not be true love after all)--that makes a much more interesting, and worthwhile story. And often you have to see that in person to understand it, because just living with your memories invites you to believe anything your mind/heart wants to. And Flo! I love Flo! And the feeling Nan got looking around the tent, realizing that she had not just a partner but a true, loving community for the first time in everyone else there--so lovely. The ending totally made the book for me personally.

Karen A. | 13 comments Jill, I loved what you just wrote: "The ending totally made the book for me personally" and I agree, unexpected ending but totally worth it.

Imemyne | 4 comments Just finished. I loved it. I really liked the normalcy of Flo compared to Nancy's craziness. (I'll admit I liked her more than Nancy) I think my absolute favorite part was when Flo was explaining what tipping the velvet was. You'd think after all of Nancy's shenanigans she'd be the one to explain it, but no! It was the normal "plain" do-gooder neighborhood girl. Loved it. I also liked the way Waters used the word saucy. In my head I keep reading it with an accent then I'd snicker. I know I'm a dork. 

Anyways back to the plot, like most of you I thought Nan would go back to Kitty, but I was starting to question that when Flo came on the scene. She was the one of the only girls Nan wasn't immediately attracted to so I was thinking she might end up with her.

To me Diana was a cartoon. I honestly couldn't take any of that too seriously. In my poor everyday life I cant even imagine a life like that. So I was unimpressed, but that's a me thing.

  Last thing about Kitty, I know that she's sorta the bad guy and the catalyst for all the bad things that happen to Nan, but I can't seem to hate her. I feel like she's a complete closet case that thought she can have the best of both worlds. I don't think she ever loved Walter like she did Nan. He's was just a beard. I believe Kitty's speech at the the end when she said she always loved Nan and never really thought she would lose her. I'm glad Nan got away and eventually found everything she needed in Flo, but I don't hate Kitty, I just pity her. 

I love this book club! Can't wait for the next book. 

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