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Il petalo cremisi e il bianco by Faber…
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Il petalo cremisi e il bianco (2002)

by Faber Michel, Parwschi Monica (Translator), Dal Pra Elena (Translator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,383173811 (3.89)1 / 375
Member:saintwo2005
Title:Il petalo cremisi e il bianco
Authors:Faber Michel
Other authors:Parwschi Monica (Translator), Dal Pra Elena (Translator)
Info:Einaudi
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:2000, romanzo storico

Work details

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

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English (164)  Dutch (4)  Italian (2)  German (2)  French (1)  All languages (173)
Showing 1-5 of 164 (next | show all)
This was a really, really weird book. I read about 150 pages before I decided that it really was not worth it. I couldn't bring myself to care about the plot, and the writing was abysmal. Also, his obsession with writing about the main character's (whose name I forget) penis was a little odd. I especially did not like when he referred to it as "swaddled" - it was just totally unnecessary, and kept making me think of it as an infant. I'm not entirely sure that this wasn't the point, which, in fact, makes it creepier. Also, "shame-hair". There. There was just no need for that. I mean, it's not like I didn't expect a lot of sex in a book about prostitution (or partially about that, anyway), but this was just... shudder-inducing. I was kind of curious to see where he was going with it. But not really. ( )
  thebookmagpie | Aug 7, 2016 |
Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature!

Coming in at a weighty 800+ pages, The Crimson Petal and the White is not for the faint of heart - or those who do not like holding heavy objects for long periods of time. It may be long, but the incredible thing about this book was how quickly it flew by. It took me a bit longer to finish The Crimson Petal and the White than the average book, but I never once felt like I was slogging through it. The characters and writing style were both so vivid and full of life that I had absolutely no problem zipping through this story. A quick obligated word of caution: if you do not like to read about sex or sexual-related activities, then you may want to set this book every so gently back on its shelf and move on, though personally I would recommend that you dive in anyway because of what a wonderfully told story this is.

The most prominent and creative aspect of The Crimson Petal and the White is the narration. It has an overall second person narration (which I am actually not normally a fan of), but much of it is told in a way that sounds third person. When Faber does dive into the second person, it's with sheer brilliance. It's written as if you are being taken on the most intense, detailed, and scandalous tour you'll ever be a part of; I almost felt like I was watching a movie with the camera zooming in and around various people and settings. It's fantastic, and I'm truly not sure if I've ever read anything quite like it.

The setting is a gritty, dirty, and shockingly authentic Victorian London. There's no sugar-coating, nothing to make the setting or characters appear more noble than they are (or aren't), and it's pure brilliance. There's was a constant sense that I was rooting around in the private affairs of others that Faber captured extremely well and truly brought the entire story to life.

One aspect of Faber's style that really stood out to me was his extensive use of detail, which I think is part of what made everything so lifelike and authentic. Everything is so clearly described or minutely detailed that it's hard not to find yourself sucked into the story.

What I loved was how Faber really played with his characters, but at the same time seemed to almost let them lead the story in whichever direction they desired. Sugar, one of our main characters, is strong and independent, but contains a small, sentimental hope for something more in her life. As a prostitute, she is always sharing her body, but what she truly seems to want to do is share her mind; she wants to write and be outspoken, to make a stand and allow others to understand the experiences of prostitutes and others like her. She wants men to realize that the women they so rudely and carelessly take advantage of are just as - if not more - capable and clever as them.

William Rackham, a second main character, is also a deeply layered man. While on the surface he appears and acts as if he has great disdain and a lack of patience for his ailing wife, his actions show something rather contrary, which is difficult to discern, but still noticeable: he loves her. No matter what, he can't seem to help but love her, no matter the frustrations she causes him to have. William seems to want nothing more than a normal, happy, sufficient marriage. But that is not what his circumstances give him, and so instead we see how he handles these issues, how he ends up meeting Sugar and how they interact and how their own uniquely personal relationship unfolds.

Along with Sugar and William are a variety of other extremely colorful and strong characters, and I strongly encourage you to give this book a chance in order to meet all of them in greater depth.

The ending is both excellent and frustrating at the same time - it's almost a non-ending, leaving you wondering what more could happen, but it's also an absolutely, perfectly satisfying wrap-up that almost seems to tease you with more, but at the same time leaves you content and satiated. It's as if it were all somehow meant to be.

I do feel as though I've been giving out quite a few five stars lately, but I can't help that I've just been immensely blessed to keep stumbling upon such fantastic books. As you can guess, I am giving The Crimson Petal and the White a well-earned five stars. I highly recommend it to anyone who feels mature enough to jump on for the ride! ( )
1 vote ForeverLostinLit | Jun 28, 2016 |
Review: The Crimson Petal and The White by Michel Faber. An historic intriguing novel. A great work of art. Faber has written a magnificent lengthy story of an era of lewd, degrading, fraudulent, and corruptive characters.

It stated with an upper-class male aching for pleasures away from his dysfunctional family at home. William took no blame in the way his life was going. Would it surprise you if I say he is evil, mean and egotistically scum. Well, I place him somewhere at the bottom of the barrel. His wife Agnes was a pleasant women who did have some emotional illness brought on by William on their wedding day. Agnes took a turn for the worse emotionally when she had a child. She believed something evil was growing in her belly and when delivered she screamed the thing (baby) was bloody evil. She never seen the baby after that day and there was never any talk of her having a child. She was never educated to what happens when a girl hits puberty. As she got older she had no clue what minstrel cycles were, what sex was, and how a baby was created and born. On her wedding night William took no care in what his wife was going through. This is when her mind began to change one day at a time.

Sophie was the baby created by William and Agnes. Agnes never held her and William had little to do with her. She had a nurse-maid as her only (strict, crude) female involvement. Until the day Sugar came into her life at the age of six as her governess.

Who was Sugar? Perhaps, Williams kept mistress. The story entwines between the upper-class to the lowest of the lowest class. If you don’t mind some impurities in your reading you have found the right novel. The author brought a lot of degrading of women to the story but also brought down the men as scum-bags.

I enjoyed this novel and recommend the book to all book lovers…..
( )
  Juan-banjo | May 31, 2016 |
This is certainly a novel worthy of being called "an event". In 900 pages, you are transported through mid-to-late 1800's London, following a large cast of characters from different social classes. There are titled aristocrats, wealthy businessmen and their families, men of science, men of leisure, social workers, factory workers, prostitutes, and beggars. The novel bops around so that the reader spends some time with each of these characters, as well as an unnamed omnipresent narrator who "introduces" them to the reader.

Although there is a plot here, the novel is primarily driven by interactions with the characters. They are so well-crafted, diverse, and complicated that it's difficult not to align yourself with each of them in some way. The main three characters are William, his wife Agnes, and his favorite prostitute named Sugar. William wants to be an artist and a writer, but after finding no success he bends to his father's will and runs the family toiletries business. He marries Agnes when she is very young and naive about not only herself as a woman, but about the world. She desperately wants to be liked, but has fluctuating health and tendencies toward impropriety. Sugar was raised by her mother to be a prostitute and nothing more, but she desires to rise above her circumstances.

In these characters, we also get a glimpse at the values, expectations, ideals, privileges, and judgments of their society. We learn how women were expected to behave, and what happens when they don't conform. Men, of the upper classes, are allowed to spend time in frivolous pursuits but are expected to start a family and take control of the family fortune. The social classes were very rigidly defined, and it was only rarely that someone transcended upward through them.

Although there is a tremendous focus on social diversity in this novel, it distinctly lacks mention of racial, ethnic, or sexual orientation diversity. I find it difficult to believe that there was so much similarity between the inhabitants of 1850-1870's London.

Overall, this is a large, sweeping, ambitious novel of character and class. It speaks to the social conventions of its time while still having relevance to modern life. I won't say that the 900 pages fly by, but you may become so engrossed in the story that they pass very pleasantly. ( )
  BooksForYears | Mar 31, 2016 |
This was a really, really weird book. I read about 150 pages before I decided that it really was not worth it. I couldn't bring myself to care about the plot, and the writing was abysmal. Also, his obsession with writing about the main character's (whose name I forget) penis was a little odd. I especially did not like when he referred to it as "swaddled" - it was just totally unnecessary, and kept making me think of it as an infant. I'm not entirely sure that this wasn't the point, which, in fact, makes it creepier. Also, "shame-hair". There. There was just no need for that. I mean, it's not like I didn't expect a lot of sex in a book about prostitution (or partially about that, anyway), but this was just... shudder-inducing. I was kind of curious to see where he was going with it. But not really. ( )
  hoegbottom | Jan 30, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Faber, MichelAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Świerkocki, MaciejTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dal Pra, ElenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Damsma, HarmTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Larsson, NilsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Möhring, Hans-UlrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miedema, NiekTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Omland, StianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pareschi, MonicaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pekkanen, HilkkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saint-Aubin, Guillemette deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tanner, JillNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Varrelmann, ClausTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vigild, NielsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zulaika, JaimeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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
Dedication
To Eva, with love and thanks
First words
Watch your step.
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

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"
(thorold)

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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:28 -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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