Thursday, 15 November 2012

Book 69 of 2012: Tipping the Velvet

Tipping The Velvet by Sarah Waters was my sixty-ninth book of the year and the last of the HTV book tree that I received. I'd heard a bit about this book before it popped through my letterbox as one of the book tree reads. I knew enough to have considered buying Fingersmith which is by the same author when I've seen it in charity shops. I didn't know enough to say exactly what the book was about though.

It is set in the Victorian era and follows the story of Nancy Astley, an oyster-girl from Whitstable, who falls in love with a male impersonator, Kitty Butler, who comes to perform at her local theatre. The book is divided into three parts, the first sees Nancy going away to work in London as Kitty's dresser, eventually joining Kitty's act (as Nan King), and developing a relationship with her.

The second part sees Nan betrayed by Kitty so she leaves the double act and, with her male impersonator's gear, sets herself up as a rent boy. It is during this period that she is discovered by a wealthy woman named Diana Lethaby who takes Nan on as a sort of live-in tart/rent boy.

The final part has Nan escaping from Diana and trying to live a 'normal' life. But of course, she can't help falling in love again. And I'm not going to say anything else because I don't want to spoil the ending.

It's probably not something I would've chosen to read based on the back of the book alone, I can't really say I've ever given much thought to the lifestyle of lesbians in the Victorian era, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

There was more than a bit of sex in the book which didn't bother me but I think it made me take longer to read it. At any other time it wouldn't really have mattered but at the time I was reading it, I wasn't really in the mood for that. Also, I felt a bit self conscious reading it at work, I was worried someone might look over my shoulder and think I was reading 50 Shades of Grey! :lol:

I didn't really warm to the character of Nan until the third part of the book, but that was sort of okay because until that point she was very self-centred. Once she started thinking of other people she became immediately more likeable. The end of the book was a little bit far fetched but totally perfect too.

"But children, he concluded, weren't made to please their parents; and no father should expect to have his daughter at his side for ever... '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.'"
Page 59

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