Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

"I had a moment of panic; but then he came and stood before me, and looked expectant"

After spending the early hours of 2018 at a drag queen's party, it seems oddly appropriate that this should be the first book I read for the year. Sarah Waters is such as amazing writer and I've thoroughly enjoyed everything I've read to date that she's written. Similar to Fingersmith,  yes I know her titles are a little obvious - this one is about a woman who is repressed by her circumstances, but boy when she finds her footing, things get loose. Initially working in the family oyster business, Nance meets actress, Kitty. Kitty performs on stage in male costume and Nance is intrigued. Becoming her dresser and after a heck of a lot of pages of unrequited love - which is so beautifully rendered that you don't mind - they eventually get together. Nance changes her name and becomes part of the act on stage and in the bedroom. The horror of being found out as a "Tom" leads Nance to life as a rent boy - dressed as a boy she is rather popular with gents in the street, before she meets the terrifying and yet educational, Diana with her special box of toys. When circumstances turn, Nance finally finds a supportive and exceptional partner and you will be on board for the whole story.
This was the author's first novel and it is amazing to think such an assured work would be the first. It is so unusual to be so completely transported into another time and I think the sense of the other really adds to that. Nance is imperfect and that makes her a beautiful protagonist.

5 out of 5 first times clearly aren't always horrid.

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