And I do know what you mean about the latter half of the book not being quite as good as the first. Within its 800-plus pages unfolds a story that draws the reader into another time and place so expertly that you feel as if you, too, are treading the streets of Victorian-era London. How might the storyline have played out in the twenty-first century? Eventually, this voice falls away, and you rotate between the points of view of a large, Dickensian cast of characters, including: William, a feckless, layabout heir to a perfume fortune; his fragile and childlike wife Agnes; his young daughter, Sophie; his deeply religious brother, Henry and Henry's devout friend Emmeline Fox. The book has been awarded with James Tait Black Memorial Prize Nominee for Fiction 2003 , Premio letterario Giuseppe Acerbi 2010 and many others. Will Sugar, and for that matter William, be recognised for what they are? Canongate also published The Apple, a selection of short stories based on characters from The Crimson Petal and the White, in 2006.
William dismisses Sugar from the household in a letter. That's exactly what she finds in Sir William Rackham, the heir to a perfume fortune who, obsessed with the desire to keep Sugar all to himself, agrees to join the family business he has previously shunned. But I don't know when I have read a novel that so consciously sets out to chastise the reader for desiring the very things that led him or her to pick it up in the first place. Eventually he moves her into the Rackham household under the pretence to work as a governess to his young daughter Sophie Isla Watt , the daughter Agnes has never acknowledged the existence of due to her madness. But this is also a story told in the present tense, alert and teasingly satirical about its characters even as it evokes real compassion for their peculiarly Victorian plights. Read it or regret it. Faber is not really interested in the workings of William's business which is all right; as Orwell pointed out, Dickens wasn't interested in the particulars of business either , but there is also no reference to the politics or the military adventures of the time, and only the barest nod to the social institutions.
Michel Faber However, in some respects, Faber ignores the rules of literature, particularly in the narrative arc of his novel. It is as if Faber has placed the whole of Victorian London under an enormous bell jar. That move brings her in contact with Agnes, William's wife, who in best Victorian madwoman fashion is living the life of invalid recluse, shunning her own daughter and indulging delusions fed by the spiritualist tracts she devours on the sly. But Faber lays the disgust on so thickly that it breaks the bounds of both his story and the characters. I had never met him and didn't want to go, so she promised to buy me some books for the car trip from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin. But as I read, I realized something else was going on.
Teeming with wit, detail, delicious scandal and enjoyable characters, this is a gleeful romp of a book, big, brash and completely unapologetic. Faber's writing is so dizzyingly accomplished that he is able to convince you that, just sometimes, the old stories really are the best ones. According to the rules the book has to be written by a citizen of the Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland or Zimbabwe. With his enormous cast of characters and a plot constantly simmering with violence, sex, coincidences and melodramatic surprises, he also shows himself to be a master storyteller. Sugar is designated as Sophie's governess and grows to genuinely love the girl as her own even as Agnes' mind begins to spiral into hallucinations of angels and William retreats to the man's world of his business dealings.
In your opinion, who are the sinister characters in the book? The truth is that you are an alien from another time and another place altogether. In less able hands this updating might have resulted in a novel that felt tricksy without being especially innovative. What readers crave above all from Victorian novels and I define them as both novels written in 19th-century Britain and novels that simply take place in that era is a long, luxuriant reading experience that allows us to sink into the atmosphere, to lose ourselves in a wealth of character and incident. All the narrative tricksiness that allows him to lay convincingly false trails. Amongst an unforgettable cast of low-lifes, physicians, businessmen and prostitutes, meet our heroine Sugar, a young woman trying to drag herself up from the gutter any way she can. I felt like my faith and my budding feminism were wrestling each other.
Sophie, who takes after her father, is very carefully kept far from her mother's sight by the household staff, who otherwise disregard Agnes' desires and ignore her. You may imagine, from other stories you've read, that you know it well, but those stories flattered you, welcoming you as a friend, treating you as if you belonged. When I first caught your eye and you decided to come with me, you were probably thinking you would simply arrive and make yourself at home. Now that you're actually here, the air is bitterly cold, and you find yourself being led along in complete darkness, stumbling on uneven ground, recognising nothing. The book was published in multiple languages including English language, consists of 835 pages and is available in Paperback format. It's a good read, and makes explicit all those things about which real Victorian novelists were so frustratingly coy. The male characters recede into the background, and each woman — a sex worker, a religious zealot, a naive wife, a young girl — shuffles off her respective yoke: well-intentioned men, not-so-well-intentioned men, religious literalism, class repression, gender expectations.
How are we to react when Sugar, bathing little Sophie, compares the child's freshly powdered pudenda to the white of a whore's made-up face? Don't wait for the film. Faber, however, is not out to indulge our fantasies, and from the beginning he puts us on alert that he is not using Victorian England to charm us. It begins with William Rackham, the reluctant heir to a perfumery business, hunting out the services of a notorious whore whose name he discovered in an annual brothel directory. Instead, because Faber has such an eye for detail and is a stickler for historical accuracy, the novel feels like an intoxicating trip into a world that few of us could ever hope — or want — to visit. At the local Borders, I drifted over to the shelf of new releases. Patent and Trademark Office as a trademark of Salon Media Group Inc. But it isn't boasting if you do what you claim to do, and there's no pretending that Faber doesn't grip us.
It really is that special. Agnes becomes increasingly unstable and desperate and, having caught glimpses of Sugar, believes her to be her own guardian angel who will bring her to the imaginary Convent of Health. Ultimately, it is most striking for its exploration of female sexual psychology, but perhaps its greatest achievement is that - despite its size - it's almost impossible to put down. He is grimly determined not to fall into the fantasy of the prostitute who enjoys her work. This, I realize, is a hell of a way to write about a novel you admire. This, however, is just such an occasion. William meets and becomes infatuated with a young and intelligent prostitute named Sugar , who is writing a novel of her own, filled with hatred and revenge against all the men who abused her and her colleagues.
The Crimson Petal and the White, Michel Faber's bulging, bawdy Victorian epic, is a gloves-off kind of novel, one not to be passed along lightly to your grandmother. I was hesitant about watching it having enjoyed the book so much but despite its few episodes it turned out to be a fine adaptation. Try if you like the thought of Dickens rising again to have a stab at erotic drama. Lots of novels are well suited to television. The best that television can do is to show her swooning at breakfast. Read The Crimson Petal and the White now, while it's still a living, laughing, sweating, coruscating mass of gorgeous words.
Castaway in spite of their seemingly disparate motivations? Now you hesitate, still holding on to me but tempted to let me go. William, the unwilling and somewhat bumbling heir to a perfume business, is a businessman of moderate success and little self-awareness. Days go by without a visit; then, when he does call on her, he has a mind full of concerns from his secret life — secret from her, that is. Faber's take on the 19th Century English novel is a heady and intoxicating mixture of affection, respect and scabrous resistance The Times This is an unputdownable book; there is no choice but to give in to this most unbelievably pleasurable of narrative rides. It is too compassionate and empathetic a novel. Later on a body is found that William identifies as Agnes he recognises only her hair, not knowing that Agnes had cut her hair before escaping.