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Tipping the Velvet
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GROUP READS > May FICTION Read TIPPING THE VELVET

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Taylor (seffietay) Historical fiction about lesbians in Victorian England!


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I've seen another discussion about this book so I'll keep an eye on the discussion. Not sure I can fit it in this month. :)


Alicja (darkwingduckie7) | 12 comments So many people love the novel but I always feels bad saying that it didn't do much for me. I was so excited about the Victorian lesbians but I hated Nancy's personality so much it overshadowed all the good stuff.


Michael | 24 comments I read this last year after discovering Sarah Waters' Fingersmith and then looking for everything by this author.

I agree Nancy is a bit off-putting, although her journey of discovery at the beginning I thought was very poignant. I ended up loving this one for the gender subject matter, Ms. Waters' wonderful prose, and some of the jaw-dropping scenes in the second section. (Well, my jaw dropped but I haven't read many books like this so others might not be as affected...) And Nancy does grow up, a bit.


Taylor (seffietay) I really enjoyed this novel when I read it a few years ago. I loved how Waters wrote about gender and lesbianism so easily, and considering a lesbian scene in London at that time was not actually documented, she really brings it to life. I liked that she also writes about class, Nan moving from the bottom rung of society to the top, and down again. The final sentence being the same as the first sentence (at least in my memory that was the case, I don't have a copy on hand to confirm) was a neat element, the whole story coming full circle in the end. For a debut novel Tipping the Velvet was certainly an achievement!


Jennifer (goodreadscomjennifer_perrine) | 3 comments So, I finally finished the novel and know I'm late to the discussion, but I was curious what it was about Nan(ce) that folks found so unlikeable. There were aspects of her character that frustrated me, but they seemed necessary to the arc of the book.


Alicja (darkwingduckie7) | 12 comments Jennifer wrote: "So, I finally finished the novel and know I'm late to the discussion, but I was curious what it was about Nan(ce) that folks found so unlikeable. There were aspects of her character that frustrated..."

It was a while since I read it so I'll try to remember... I saw her as a user of people. She'd cause her own troubles, whine about it, have someone take pity on her and help her out, and she'd use them until she was done with them.

I did like the descriptions of the lesbian scene, and Waters beautiful language. I just didn't like Nan.


Alexa (AlexaNC) She also at times seemed amazingly shallow, such as the amount of time she spent mooning over her clothes and regretting their loss!


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Nicole Alexa wrote: "She also at times seemed amazingly shallow, such as the amount of time she spent mooning over her clothes and regretting their loss!"

Aww, I didn't really see it as shallow. I thought she was exceptionally attached to the cloths because they sort of formed her identity. Plus they reminded her of better times with Kitty and were really her only personal possessions.

Although I can see why people don't like Nan, I really didn't mind her. Though I did prefer her in the first third of the book when she was falling in love with Kitty.


Alexa (AlexaNC) I expected to love this, but I just had to keep forcing myself to pick it up again, for some reason I just found it completely tedious - and usually I'm a complete sucker for period-rich historical fiction. She did a beautiful job of invoking the smells, tastes, sounds of the era - I just couldn't seem to care all that much about any of the characters.


Alicja (darkwingduckie7) | 12 comments Alexa wrote: "I expected to love this, but I just had to keep forcing myself to pick it up again, for some reason I just found it completely tedious - and usually I'm a complete sucker for period-rich historical..."

Yup, that was me too. Loved her writing style and period description, was not into any of the characters until the very end with Florence, but by that point is was too little too late (and I surely didn't want Florence with Nan).


Alexa (AlexaNC) Yes! Let's save Florence from Nan! Although, there at the very end, Nan began to show the potential for some growth - just the tiniest hint of character development.


Alicja (darkwingduckie7) | 12 comments Alexa wrote: "Yes! Let's save Florence from Nan! Although, there at the very end, Nan began to show the potential for some growth - just the tiniest hint of character development."

Which she should have been doing the whole time, and not starting to at the end. I am glad I'm not alone in my Nan dislike. I know most people love the book, and I like other work by Waters, but Nan just destroyed my enjoyment of this one.


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Nicole I agree-- I expected to love it more than I did. I still liked it though. I'll continue to check out other works by Sarah Waters because I love her style, but I don't think I'll start any of them with such high expectations. I had the same problem with her The Little Stranger-- the writing was lovely and the plot interesting/unique, but I just wasn't blown away for some reason.


Alicja (darkwingduckie7) | 12 comments Nicole wrote: "I agree-- I expected to love it more than I did. I still liked it though. I'll continue to check out other works by Sarah Waters because I love her style, but I don't think I'll start any of them w..."

I loved The Night Watch. I didn't love all the characters but since there were 4 I was invested enough in some of them (and simply adored Kay), and the rest of the writing was so very her, very descriptive and detailed and beautifully written. I'd suggest checking out that one.


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Nicole Thanks, I'll have to check that one out. Has anyone read Fingersmith? I've heard it was good, but the descriptions I've read make it sound just like Tipping the Velvet. I don't know if it's different enough to be worth the read.


Michael | 24 comments I'm listening to the audio of The Little Stranger now, but I haven't figured out what the plot is yet. I'll make sure to try The Night Watch, though.

Nicole, I agree about the clothes being part of Nan's identity (and the Kitty romance); plus, the background she had in that time period would have made clothing more valuable.

I would agree that she didn't think too deeply about things, especially at the beginning. Still, I think I gave her a pass because a lot of this world was new to me, too, as I read it, and while a higher level of self-analysis is admirable, I think this is actually a more common human experience: we go along in the world, doing what we are used to, maybe trying on some new things, and then an accumulation of events will suddenly congeal into an insight or life change.

And yes, it did seem like Nan had a lot of growing to do before she would have been the right match for Florence...


Alexa (AlexaNC) I have no idea how accurate the history in this was. I do know that many women of the era adopted masculine touches in their clothing, not out of statements of sexual identity, but out of statements of political gender identity, as part of the suffragette movement. Waters completely ignoring this somewhat troubled me.


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Nicole Michael wrote: "I'm listening to the audio of The Little Stranger now, but I haven't figured out what the plot is yet. I'll make sure to try The Night Watch, though.

Nicole, I agree ..."


The Little Stranger was a little slow, but I remember thinking it was pretty interesting. It's been a while since I read it though.


Taylor (seffietay) Nicole, I liked Finger Smith better than Tipping the Velvet, but that's just me. Night Watch was also good, very emotional but also slightly frustrating in that it moved backwards in time so you learn the back story but don't get the conclusion. Still a great read though. Affinity was slow moving but the pay off was great. If I HAD to pick an order for the Waters books I liked most I think Fingersmith would be #1, followed by Affinity, followed by Night Watch, and ending with Tipping. That being said they were all really good so it's hard to pick one over the other! I am looking forward to her new release later this year and to finally picking up Little Stranger.


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Tim Regan (dumbledad) | 22 comments Just resurrecting a very old thread to mention that there was a fascinating article about this book in Saturday's Guardian. In it Walker reflects on the change between 20 years ago when she wrote it and now. She also touches on some of the questions discussed here.


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