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

by Michel Faber

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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5,8731801,101 (3.88)1 / 413
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English (169)  Dutch (4)  Italian (3)  German (2)  French (1)  All languages (179)
Showing 1-5 of 169 (next | show all)
At 35 CD's worth of book, it does go on forever. The reader's manner matches the slightly contemptuous tone of the book with occasional wry commentary upon the reader. The setting is the dark side of Victorian London of whores and industrialists. All of the characters are mad to some degree and some are more contemptible than others. It's definitely an interesting ride, disturbing and sad. ( )
  cindywho | May 27, 2019 |
DNF. ( )
  camillawb | Nov 6, 2018 |
I really wanted to like The Crimson Petal and the White. I really did. It had so many elements that pointed to me loving it, the Victorian setting, lots of description, an interesting sounding plot, prostitutes... But. Ugh.

The author used the style of Victorian novels, and the man is no Dickens. I wanted to care about the characters. But I found nothing intriguing about them. I read the first 80 pages and then skipped around trying to see if the story would pick up and gain my interest once again. Nope. I even read the last few pages, something I never do, in hopes that I might want to see how the author arrived at that destination. Nope.

You must understand, I was a Lit major in college. I read and still read classics for fun. I was reading Shakespeare in 6th grade. Challenging literary novels do not frighten me or bore me. But this book... I'm sorry, life is too short and there are far too many books to ready to waste one's time on something so utterly anti-compelling. I couldn't even hate-read this doorstop.

What I did like was the attention to detail, the descriptions of the streets, the rooms, the clothing, the food. If the characters were just a bit more interesting, I may have continued to read, not for the plot or the characters but for the historical accuracy and the obvious research the author did.

Unless you really enjoy dense historical novels with characters you can't even love to hate, give this a pass and go read Dickens. ( )
2 vote jezebellydancer | Aug 8, 2017 |
I'm a huge fan of two of Michel Faber's other works - The Book Of Strange New Things and Under The Skin - and also love Victorian settings, so the only surprise was that it took me so long to get round to The Crimson Petal And The White.

I LOVED this novel. Yes, it's long, but the writing is so immersive and the characters so human and well developed that I could happily have read another 800+ pages. As it stands, I'm glad it ended the way it did (which seems to be a controversial opinion!). ( )
  mooingzelda | Mar 2, 2017 |
At nearly 900 pages, the beautiful prose, compelling story and unforgettable characters make the book seem far shorter. Michael Faber takes us to 1870's London where Sugar, a 19 year old prostitute, intelligent and unusually well-read for a young woman of her station, yearns for a better life. Without giving away the plot, Sugar's story takes us from the lowest to the highest strata of Victorian society. Along the way we meet William, a hapless, rather vile little man, heir to a perfume company, and totally smitten with Sugar. There's William's child-like, empty-headed, naive wife, Agnes, who is madder than a hatter (we are eventually given a reason for her mental state), their hidden-away daughter Sophie, unacknowledged by her mother lest she have to admit to sex and childbirth, subjects she knows little to nothing about.

There are plenty of sub-plots, including William's pious brother, Henry, who is tormented by his lustful feelings for the widow, Emmeline Fox, who tirelessly works for the Rescue Society on behalf of the city's prostitutes. We also meet haughty socialites, bawdy prostitutes, dishonest servants, and most notably for comic relief, we have William's two drunken friends, Ashwell and Bodley.

This is Victorian life as never before seen and Faber minces no words in his explicit descriptions of the seamier sides of life. It can at times be a bit off-putting but it's never gratuitous and it further highlights the differences between the genteel Victorian "ideal" and the more tawdry side of the era. Along the way the cast of colorful characters undergo a lot of changes. There have been some who didn't like the ending but I found it to be perfect. ( )
  janb37 | Feb 13, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 169 (next | show all)

» 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)

» see all 8 descriptions

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Canongate Books

2 editions of this book were published by Canongate Books.

Editions: 1841954314, 1847678939

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