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Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

Tipping the Velvet (1998)

by Sarah Waters

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,9701161,290 (4.01)408
  1. 81
    Affinity by Sarah Waters (Booksloth)
  2. 70
    Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (zembla)
    zembla: A lush, atmospheric Victorian love story between two young women.
  3. 71
    Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (_debbie_)
    _debbie_: Both are (at least partially) historical novels with strong themes of identity, coming of age, and going against the mainstream to stay true to what you feel is right. Although one is set in Victorian England and the other isn't, they both have that same feel of rich language and descriptive place.… (more)
  4. 20
    Moll Cutpurse, Her True History by Ellen Galford (CurrerBell)
  5. 00
    The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry (Anonymous user)
  6. 00
    The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee (Anonymous user)

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» See also 408 mentions

English (109)  Dutch (2)  French (2)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  All (116)
Showing 1-5 of 109 (next | show all)
I did not like it as much as I thought would. Maybe because it banked heavily on the erotica, which I wasn't interested in so I just glossed over the sex scenes. Oh alright, I read them with mild curiosity, but that was it. If it did not have the lesbian aspect, it would still be an interesting tale of "country girl goes off to seek Fame and Fortune in the big city, but ends up in dire straits". So it's okay, but I can't say that I liked it. ( )
  mrsrobin | Jun 24, 2017 |
A sexy, probably wildly inaccurate and mildly ridiculous book about the stage and lesbians. ( )
  Arianwen16 | Jan 4, 2017 |
Sometimes I get the urge to revisit Nancy and Florence. Every re-read is the same: I dread the middle portion of the book but enjoy the first part and love the final part enough to keep going. I don't know why I can't just give myself permission to skip to the parts I want, but I can't.

The end makes it all worthwhile. ( )
  amcheri | Aug 22, 2016 |
4.5* really, but not quite 5*

"And last of all I had a fondness – you might say, a kind of passion – for the music hall; and more particularly for music-hall songs and the singing of them. If you have visited Whitstable you will know that this was a rather inconvenient passion, for the town has neither music hall nor theatre – only a solitary lamp-post before the Duke of Cumberland Hotel, where minstrel troupes occasionally sing, and the Punch-and-Judy man, in August, sets his booth."

Delicious, sensuous, fun. These are not usually the first words that come to my mind when describing what essentially is a Bildungsroman - a coming of age story.

This one was!

Set in the late 1880s, early 1890s, nine-teen year old Nancy Astley falls in love: first with the theatre, then with a music hall star. What follows is a topsy-turvy romp of an education of girl from a rather sheltered background who embarks on life:

"I remembered Walter saying that we were at the very heart of London, and did I know what it was that made that great heart beat? Variety! I had looked around me that afternoon and seen, astonished, what I thought was all the world’s variety, brought together in one extraordinary place. I had seen rich and poor, splendid and squalid, white man and black man, all bustling side by side. I had seen them make a vast harmonious whole, and been thrilled to think that I was about to find my own particular place in it, as Kitty’s friend. How had my sense of the world been changed, since then! I had learned that London life was even stranger and more various than I had ever thought it; but I had learned too that not all its great variety was visible to the casual eye; that not all the pieces of the city sat together smoothly, or graciously, but rather rubbed and chafed and jostled one another, and overlapped; that some , out of fear, kept themselves hidden, and only exposed themselves to those upon whose sympathies they could be sure."

Despite all her errors in judgement, Nancy is such a great character that I could hardly put the book down to hear her story, wanting to make sure she would be ok and at times envying her freedom from care at the same time.

I should point out that my rating system is rather conservative and that I reserve 5* for books that truly knock me over, and that will stay with me for a long, long time to come.

The only reason that keep me from giving Tipping the Velvet my full five stars is that some of the dialogue is a little too forced, too smooth - a minor flaw that vanishes into insignificance when compared to many other novels (especially in the romance genre) because the writing is still excellent. However, knowing that The Night Watch and The Paying Guests are just that little bit more powerful (in my estimation) it does not feel right to rate Tipping the Velvet at the same level of excellence.

Review first posted on BookLikes: http://brokentune.booklikes.com/post/1036156/tipping-the-velvet ( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |
  TheIdleWoman | Jun 26, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 109 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sarah Watersprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dabekaussen, EugèneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maters, TillyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
Have you ever tasted a Whitstable oyster?
"Dreams," I said. He snapped his fingers. "The very stuff that stages are made of."
"In short, Nance, even was you going to the very devil himself, your mother and I would rather see you fly from us in joy, than stay with us in sorrow - and grow, maybe, to hate us, for keeping you from your fate."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Please do not combine Tipping the Velvet the novel with Tipping the Velvet the DVD.
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Book description
Piercing the shadows of the naked stage was a single shaft of rosy limelight, and in the centre of this was a girl: the most marvellous girl - I knew it at once! - that I had ever seen. A saucy, sensuous and multi-layered historical romance, Tipping the Velvet follows the glittering career of Nan King - oyster girl turned music-hall star turned rent boy turned East End 'tom'.
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Nancy Astley, a fishmonger in Whitstable, becomes smitten by male impersonator Kitty Butler and attends shows until the star notices her, which leads to the two becoming partners in romance and performance until societal pressures drive the two into situations that embrace the ambiguity of sexual preference and gender roles.… (more)

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