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Tipping The Velvet by Sarah Waters

Tipping The Velvet (original 1998; edition 2002)

by Sarah Waters

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,4571001,553 (4.02)321
Title:Tipping The Velvet
Authors:Sarah Waters
Info:Virago (2002), Edition: New edition, Paperback, 480 pages
Collections:Your library, Owned
Tags:fiction, British fiction, Published in 2002, Published in the 2000s, Published in the 21st century, England, London, historical fiction, Kept in Belfast, Read in 2013, Read in Belfast, Bought in 2013

Work details

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters (1998)

  1. 60
    Affinity by Sarah Waters (Booksloth)
  2. 50
    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)
  3. 50
    Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (zembla)
    zembla: A lush, atmospheric Victorian love story between two young women.
  4. 10
    Moll Cutpurse, Her True History: A Novel by Ellen Galford (CurrerBell)

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» See also 321 mentions

English (93)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (99)
Showing 1-5 of 93 (next | show all)

In the end, I understand the reasons people seem to love this book. But I myself am not a fan.

I don't feel as if a void has been filled in my life. Perhaps there are some who were waiting for lesbian erotica that would make it to the mainstream. For those of us who weren't, this novel feels like it's only designed to teach us what it may have been like to be gay in the 1880s. I felt this particularly at the end when we learn more about the social leanings of the group of people our protagonist hangs around with. My ears pricked up - because that was fascinating and well-written and certainly what I expected in a novel about Edwardian England. Not what we got which was a sorry tale of a sorry young person who waited until the very end of the bloody novel to grow.

I suspect my exasperation with this tale may be far larger than others. And that that exasperation was mostly due to the middle section in which Nancy literally flings aside her comfortable life for purely sexual reasons. I just can't fathom such an action, and it pissed me off no end. It also made the inevitable ending feel cheap and flat. ( )
  khage | Jun 3, 2014 |
This is a wonderful book. Part history, part romance, and all triumph. A beautifully told story of love, loss, and rebirth. Definitely making its way to my "favorites" list. Highly recommended. ( )
  k8seren | Feb 6, 2014 |
Besides being decent historical fiction, Tipping The Velvet is pretty decent erotic writing. Set in the late 19th century UK, our heroine Nan, leaves her loving family in a seaside town for greater love and adventure in the big city. Nan goes through three phases: Normal, Weird, and Settled, which are like Dickens stage sets that describe particular social classes and subcultures. Tipping The Velvet is the most overtly erotic of a trilogy (Affinity & Fingersmith) which have little in common except the historical period, and heroines who discover the joys of womanly companionship.

In each of the three books, Waters does a fantastic job of scene setting, and subculture description: Affinity is memorable not only for the the Millbank women's prison, but also for the spiritualist subculture, not to mention excellent evil characters, and good/evil reversals of fortune. Fingersmith has yet another flavor - a Dickensian tale that Charles never imagined, and certainly could not put to paper and publish even if he had. To me, Sarah Waters is filling in blanks - lesbian lacunas -- that Dickens skipped in his tales of orphans, thieves, and skanky characters from the 1800's.

( )
  grheault | Jan 30, 2014 |
I give this 4 1/2 stars and wouldv'e given it 5 if it werent for the 3rd part of the book.
Otherwise, I felt that this 'coming of age' in london as a woman who likes women and dresses like a man pretending not to be a "tom" but being a "tom"....
I can identify with young Nancy, she goes to a stage show and sees a woman dressed as a man singing and she becomes enamered.. I felt the same way watching Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer blondes (although Marilyn didn't dress like a man) She is lucky enough to get invited back stage and meet the lady she idolizes on stage and somehow ends up being her private maid. Nancy leaves her crowded home where she shares a bed with her sister, to traveling around sharing a bed with her idol. Not to go into specifics, but the 3 major women who play romantic parts in Nancy's late teens to late 20's are definitely different.
But which one should she pick to be with?
I found Part 3 long.... I didn't find Flo engaging at all. The more she revealed about herself, the more I disliked her and I dont think she really loved Nancy. But she was the safest choice in the end I guess as the crazy rich woman only wanted to own her and Kitty only wanted to hide her and Flo wanted her to like Her causes and support HER. Poor Gal.
I did enjoy the book, but it could have been made shorter in some parts. ( )
  Strawberryga | Dec 28, 2013 |
Tipping the Velvet was my first step into the worlds of LGBT and Sarah Water's literature, and it certainly will not be my last. Through the pages of this novel there is the painting of spectacular scenes, marvellous (though not always admirable) characters and a journey with Nan King, a girl turn (wo)man who at times deserves a good shake but always manages to find herself in captivating situations. This is certainly the best novel I have read in a long time, perking my interest from page one with Sarah's wonderful prose. My only complaint is that at times it was predictable, but even so it's daring characters and mesmerizing world far overshadowed such a flaw. That being said, many of these characters are not always lovable - so if you're looking for a fluffy do-gooder book, you may want to look elsewhere. Though without a doubt it is a treasure in my minds eye and I would certainly recommend it to most who haven't yet tried it. ( )
  Lila_Lockhart | Sep 28, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 93 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sarah Watersprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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."
Last words
(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)

(summary from another edition)

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