Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
This delicious, steamy debut novel chronicles the adventures of Nan King, who begins life as an oyster girl in the provincial seaside town of Whitstable and whose fortunes are forever changed when she falls in love with a cross-dressing music-hall singer named Miss Kitty Butler.
When Kitty is called up to London for an engagement on "Grease Paint Avenue", Nan follows as her dresser and secret lover, and, soon after, dons trousers herself and joins the act. In time, Kitty breaks her heart, and Nan assumes the guise of butch roue to commence her own thrilling and varied sexual education - a sort of Moll Flanders in drag - finally finding friendship and true love in the most unexpected places.
So this book took a downward progression for me, as it went on. In the end, I did enjoy it, but as I made my way through it, I found myself beginning to like it less and less.
To begin with, there were certain twists in the story that I saw coming pages in advance. I have to give Waters some leniency, since this was her debut novel, but still...a lot of the plot seemed to follow a fairly predictable formula, at times. Events that were meant to shock or surprise me were entirely expected on my part.
Then there's the character of Nancy. I started the book liking her. She seemed like a completely together and likable girl. Then, all of the sudden I found myself being completely annoyed and put-off by her. She went from being this strong, independent girl and just suddenly became this weak, whiny thing. I hated it. She redeemed herself in the end, but I just didn't like the way her character changed, at times.
Bottom line, I'll say...read it. For all its flaws, it's a better-than-decent read. I've read one other book by Waters and I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as this one (which is odd considering this was her first...shouldn't your work improve?). Be warned ahead of time though that this is a "lesbian fiction" book and...it's kinda heavy on the lesbian, so be prepared for that. Not saying it's a bad thing. I just feel compelled to give you a heads up so you're not caught completely off-guard.