Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • Hayley

      Something Wicked This Way Comes...   10/09/2019

      The Autumn Supporter Giveaway!       Welcome to the very first of the seasonal BCF supporter giveaways! This month also marks one year since I took on the forum, so I want to say an extra huge thank you to all of you for keeping this place going. I have a little bit more to say about that later but, for now, let's get to the giveaway!     The Autumn Giveaway winner will be getting two Penguin Little Black Classics, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe and To Be Read At Dusk by Charles Dickens. Both of these little books contain three atmospheric short stories, perfect for autumnal evenings. The winner will also get Mary Shelley tea (a lavender and vanilla black tea) from Rosie Lea Tea's Literary Tea Collection (https://www.rosieleatea.co.uk/collections/literary-tea-collection) and a chocolate skull, to really get that spooky atmosphere .   and...   A special treat for a special month. The winner will choose one of the following recent paperback releases from the independent bookshop Big Green Bookshop:       The Wych Elm by Tana French A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan Melmoth by Sarah Perry The Familiars by Stacey Halls  The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White   The winner will be chosen via the usual random selection process in one week. Patreon supporters are entered automatically. If you aren't a patreon supporter but you'd like to join in with this giveaway, you can support here: https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum.   I really hope you're all going to like this introduction to the seasonal giveaways. It's been a lot of fun to put together. Other chocolate skulls may have been harmed during the selection process…     
Polka Dot Rock

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber

Recommended Posts

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber

 

Paperback: 894 pages

Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd; New Ed edition (30 Sep 2003)



Language English

ISBN-10: 1841954314

ISBN-13: 978-1841954318

 

From Amazon.co.uk

 

Although it's billed as "the first great 19th-century novel of the 21st century," The Crimson Petal and the White is anything but Victorian. It's the story of a well-read London prostitute named Sugar, who spends her free hours composing a violent, pornographic screed against men. Michel Faber's dazzling second novel dares to go where George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss and the works of Charles Dickens could not. We learn about the positions and orifices that Sugar and her clients favour, about her lingering skin condition, and about the suspect ingredients of her prophylactic douches. Still, Sugar believes she can make a better life for herself.

When she is taken up by a wealthy man, the perfumer William Rackham, her wings are clipped and she must balance financial security against the obvious servitude of her position. The physical risks and hardships of Sugar's life (and the even harder "honest" life she would have led as a factory worker) contrast--yet not entirely--with the medical mistreatment of her benefactor's wife, Agnes, and beautifully underscore Faber's emphasis on class and sexual politics. In theme and treatment, this is a novel that Virginia Woolf might have written, had she been born 70 years later. The language, however, is Faber's own--brisk and elastic--and, after an awkward opening, the plethora of detail he offers (costume, food, manners, cheap stage performances, the London streets) slides effortlessly into his forward-moving sentences.

Despite its 800-plus pages, The Crimson Petal and the White turns out to be a quick read, since it is truly impossible to put down.

 

* * *

From the back of the book:

 

Gripping from the first page, this immense novel is an intoxicating and deeply satisfying read. Faber's most ambitious fictional creation yet, it is sure to affirm his position as one of the most talented and brilliant writers working in the UK. Sugar, an alluring, nineteen-year-old 'lady of the night' in the brothel of the terrifying Mrs Castaway, yearns for a better life. Her ascent through the strata of 1870's London society offers us intimacy with a host of loveable, maddening and superbly realised characters. At the heart of this panoramic, multi-layered narrative is the compelling struggle of a young woman to lift her body and soul out of the gutter. The Crimson Petal and the White is a big, juicy, must-read of a novel that will delight, enthral, provoke and entertain young and old, male and female.

 

I've been meaning to do a review of this for ages...

 

 

If I had one word to review this whole novel: WOW.

 

Where to begin? For starters I can't remember reading an opening quite as striking as Crimson Petal's is, and this high performing beginning has, thus far, been maintained throughout.

 

It's like all the Victorian-era literature we love but with all the manky/scandalous/sweary bits left in :lol: Plus all beautifully written! Seriously, Faber is an extraordinary writer - the details he includes to really heighten the sense of 'being in the story' are exquisite!

 

Yet, it's also an incredibly readable novel and very, very funny and bawdy. Actually, it's incredibly graphic in parts (as part of it is set in a brothel) - my eyes nearly popped out a couple of times towards the end of the first part! (Like this: :roll:, lol!) But it's all part of the narrative and the sense of the novel being what Victorian writers couldn't actually write, yet must have known went on, at the time. Faber takes on a bit of a Thackeray narrative persona too, which I just love.

 

I couldn't wait to get back to reading it, and it really is true what some of the reviews said: at 835 pages long, it does feel too short!

 

I was utterly bereft when I finished it - the characters were so sharply drawn that I really miss them now they are out of my life

Definitely 10/10 :) - and I would give it more if I could!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your review and enthusiasm make me want to read it...Now!

 

Yet another to add to my TBR pile... I really should stop coming here!!:roll:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Your review and enthusiasm make me want to read it...Now!

 

Ah ha! My cunning plan worked :roll: (BTW, Thank you for your kind words)

 

Definitely my reading highlight of the year, thus far.

 

Yet another to add to my TBR pile... I really should stop coming here!!:lol:

 

I know, it's lethal 'round these parts... :) This is my revenge for all the books I've ended up buying becuase of reviews on here!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds great PDR :roll:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds interesting - I can't wait to start 199 Steps by Michel Faber the next book on my TBR pile after the one I'm reading now - then I may look out for The Crimson Petal and the White.

 

PDR - you may be interested to know that there is a '5 minute interview' with Michel Faber in today's Independent - I enjoyed reading it:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PDR - you may be interested to know that there is a '5 minute interview' with Michel Faber in today's Independent - I enjoyed reading it

 

Aw thank Rosie, I'll look out for it! :roll:

 

Oh and please let me know what 199 Steps is like, once you start reading it :lol:

 

The Apple (More Crimson Petal Stories) is out in paperback in a couple of weeks so I'll be keeping an eye for it when I'm on hols. Definitely at the top of my Want To Read list :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Aw, I'm SO pleased Jules!! Is it feeling like a huge read or are you flying through it?

No it doesn't feel like a huge read PDR but because of the sheer size of the book I can only read it sat at the table or in bed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have just started this book and am a bit daunted at the size of it at 835 pages it is the longest book I have ever read and the font is tiny! I am usually a quick reader and finish a book in less than 2 days so will see how long this takes.

I am so looking forward to getting going with it.

KxXx

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hope you enjoy it Essio, it's one of the best books I've read to date.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just loved this book and am so sorry to have finished it even though it's heavy and cumbersome. I have dragged it everywhere in my handbag since 18/12/07. Good job it was a library book with a decent plastic cover. The print is so small I have had to use an extra white light of an evening to read late. However back to the content.

 

It's like a private serial of 'Upstairs, Downstairs' but X rated - it is really crude in places but fitting in context. The book is very detailed but never ever dull. What an achievement. It's a sorry tale mostly about the lives of women in the late 19th century. The utter dependence on men of both rich and poor women and children alike. The seediness and filth of London at that time. The lustrous richness of those with money. It's all here. I kept trying to second guess what was going to happen.

We are left not knowing where Sophie and Sugar went. I really thought they were going to meet up with Agnes but I was wrong. Things are left open - I wonder if there is a second book in the making

 

 

I am so glad to be introduced by BCF to this book and I would definitely have a go at another of Michel Faber's stories. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's a good 'un H&D and one of my fav reads of last year, there is a sequel called The Apple which gives a little bit more info :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have just finished reading The Crimson Petal and the White and thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

I was going through a bad patch in reading so taking on a long book was a risk, but it was very worthwhile. Hopefully I am back on track thanks to this book.

 

Thanks for the recommendations folks. I now have The Apple on my shelf, but I am saving it for later.:D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I now have The Apple on my shelf, but I am saving it for later.:D
As much as I like Michel Faber, I think the Apple is not worth the time. It felt more like an in-between books cash-cow, a giving the people what they want thing when, once you read it, you realise knowing isn't what you want.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As much as I like Michel Faber, I think the Apple is not worth the time. It felt more like an in-between books cash-cow, a giving the people what they want thing when, once you read it, you realise knowing isn't what you want.

Sort of agree, think it was done to cash in on CPaTW but did still enjoy it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As much as I like Michel Faber, I think the Apple is not worth the time. It felt more like an in-between books cash-cow, a giving the people what they want thing when, once you read it, you realise knowing isn't what you want.

 

Sort of agree, think it was done to cash in on CPaTW but did still enjoy it!

 

 

Oh dear! In that case I will save it

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This book is definitely one of the best books I've ever read. I loved it and felt so disappointed when I was coming to the end. I was really looking forward to reading The Apple, but have to agree that it was sadly lacking :D

 

If you liked this book, you may also like Slammerkin by Emma Donahue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If you liked this book, you may also like Slammerkin by Emma Donahue.

 

Thanks Laa Laa just had a peek on Amazon it does look good so that's another one for the wish list :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I never feel qualified to do a critique or review on a book, especially when I have loved it as much as I loved this one. What I will say is that it was a wonderful read, full of ups and downs and made the reader feel, see and smell 1870s London. The characters were real and alive in the story, characters you know - you care for them or loath them, but they are real.

 

It is not often I finish a book and actually feel richer for the experience but this book has certainly had that effect on me. I laughed, I cried and when I finished it, I missed it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now



×