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The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel…

The Crimson Petal and the White (original 2002; edition 2003)

by Michel Faber

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4,990154911 (3.88)1 / 333
Title:The Crimson Petal and the White
Authors:Michel Faber
Info:Harvest Books (2003), Paperback, 944 pages
Collections:Your library, Fiction, Historical fiction (WWII and before), Favorites
Tags:How Novels Work, Beautiful writing, London, Book Lust, Xmas/Winter

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The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber (2002)


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English (144)  Dutch (4)  Italian (2)  German (2)  French (1)  All languages (153)
Showing 1-5 of 144 (next | show all)
Truthfully, I did not finish this' in fact I ran out of sympathy for the male protagonist about 50 pages in. Gave up about 175 pages in. Life is too short to finish 900 pages if not interested.
  ritaer | Aug 31, 2014 |
I have to admit that I found the first 300 pages or so of this book to be tedious and it just seemed to lead nowhere. I stopped reading the book for a few months and contemplated not ever coming back to it but it irritates me a little when I don't finish a book so I decided to give it another go. The remainder of the book was where the story really started to evolve and I then couldn't get enough of Michel Faber's depiction of Victorian life. I really think the book probably should be rated 3 1/2 stars rather than 4 as most of the content in the first few hundred pages seems to be pointless. ( )
  pcollins | Jul 27, 2014 |
okay so -- man!! i really wanted to like this book way more than i did. i ended up disappointed, but it's not surprising because faber's stylistic devices irritated the shit out of me very early on. i had hoped it would calm down and that i could get past it - and for stretches i could - but overall, i was far too aware of the style to be immersed in the story. as i felt with the 800-pages of [book:The Luminaries|17333230] - this book is in need of a more ruthless editor. i felt parts were overwritten and padded, and this could have been a fantastic 600-page book. for such a lengthy read, the characters were less than fully realized for me.

having said all of this - faber did do a good job evoking the times and places, he created some fabulously vivid images and characters. you could almost smell the wretched lives. i also adored mrs. emmeline fox.

i am keen to see the BBC adaptation now... ( )
  DawsonOakes | Jul 10, 2014 |
I dove into this book with very few preconceptions, only choosing it because I saw a brief introductory sequence of the television series and enjoyed the interesting dialog as the camera wove through the streets of Victorian London. A very happy fancy!

Faber's keen eye, encyclopedic, caught me up in the setting, and his narrative style -- particularly in the beginning of the novel -- reminded me of John Updike. I was sold. The subject matter is dark and the sex clinically accurate, although anyone seeking the mystical sexuality of Henry Miller should look elsewhere. Having just finished the book, with little time to reflect upon it, I perceive a depth waiting analysis, particularly in his treatment of religious themes. But this is not a thesis-driven novel. It breathes.

Highly recommended. Especially in electronic form -- to save your wrists, if nothing else. ( )
1 vote Michael.McGuire | May 22, 2014 |
I LOVED this book. It is SO rich, SO detailed, & it's characters so REAL that it's like stepping back in time to a world that in other Victorian era books we could only peer through the window at. I love the fact that the author took SO much time to research & write this book, & we are the richer for it as we walk through this world with Rackham, Sugar, Caroline, & the rest.

Anyone that enjoys historical fiction and/or the Victorian era needs to dive into this book. ( )
  Lisa.Johnson.James | Apr 17, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 144 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michel Faberprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dal Pra, ElenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pareschi, MonicaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The girls that are wanted are good girls
Good from the heart to the lips
Pure as the lily is white and pure
From its heart to its sweet leaf tips.

The girls that are wanted are girls with hearts
They are wanted for mothers and wives
Wanted to cradle in loving arms
The strongest and frailest lives.

The clever, the witty, the brilliant girl
There are few who can understand
But, oh! For the wise, loving home girls
There's a constant, steady demand.

from 'The Girls that are Wanted' J.H. Gray, c. 1880
To Eva, with love and thanks
First words
Watch your step.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
blurb : Meet Sugar, a nineteen year old prostitute in Victorian London who yearns for escape to a better life. From the brothel of the terrifying Mrs. Castaway, she begins her ascent through society. Beginning with William Rackham, a perfume magnate whose lust for Sugar soon begins to smell like love, she meets a host of lovable, maddening, unforgettable characters as her social rise is overseen by assorted preening socialites, drunken journalists, untrustworthy servants, vile guttersnipes, and whores of all kinds.
Haiku summary
Soapmaker's mistress
Wants to be secretary
But does a "Jane Eyre"

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0156028778, Paperback)

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. 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 favor, 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. When Agnes goes mad, for instance, "she sings on and on, while the house is discreetly dusted all around her and, in the concealed and subterranean kitchen, a naked duck, limp and faintly steaming, spreads its pimpled legs on a draining board." 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. --Regina Marler

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:49 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

From the Publisher: At the Heart of this panoramic, multidimensional narrative is the compelling struggle of a young woman to lift her body and soul out of the gutter. Michel Faber leads us back to 1870s London, where Sugar, a nineteen-year-old whore in the brothel of the terrifying Mrs. Castaway, yearns for escape into a better life. Her ascent through the strata of Victorian society offers us intimacy with a host of lovable, maddening, unforgettable characters. They begin with William Rackham, an egotistical perfume magnate whose ambition is fueled by his lust for Sugar, and whose patronage of her brings her into proximity to his extended family and milieu: his unhinged, child-like wife, Agnes; his mysteriously hidden-away daughter, Sophie; and his pious brother Henry, foiled in his devotional calling by a persistently less-than-chaste love for the Widow Fox, whose efforts on behalf of The Rescue Society lead Henry into ever-more disturbing confrontations with flesh. All this is overseen by assorted preening socialites, drunken journalists, untrustworthy servants, vile guttersnipes, and whores of all stripes and persuasions. Twenty years in its conception, research, and writing, The Crimson Petal and the White is a singular literary achievement-a gripping, intoxicating, deeply satisfying Victorian novel written with an immediacy, compassion, and insight that give it a timeless and universal appeal.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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Two editions of this book were published by Canongate Books.

Editions: 1841954314, 1847678939

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