The Crimson Petal and the White Author:Michel Faber 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. 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 to a better life. Her ascent through the strata of Victor... more »ian 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 brings her into proximity to his extended family and milieu: his unhinged, childlike wife, Agnes, who manages to overcome her chronic hysteria to make her appearances during “the Season”; his mysteriously hidden-away daughter, Sophie, left to the care of minions; 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 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 teeming with life, rich in texture and incident, with characters breathtakingly real. In a class by itself, it's a big, juicy, must-read of a novel that will delight, enthrall, provoke, and entertain young and old, male and female.« less
I really enjoyed this novel. I prefer longer books because you really get wrapped up the story lines and the characters. The book is based around a very likable and understandable character named Sugar. It's very easy to comprehend where Sugar is coming from and why she makes the choices she does. The back of the book is a bit misleading because it says she climbs the ranks of society which made it sound Evita-esque, which isn't the case. The narrative is refreshingly different and it pulls you along through the story and you get to be in the heads of most of the characters at one point or another. I expected it to be much more graphic than it was from what others have said, but in my opinion it's not very graphic at all. Normally I like a neat and tidy story ending to sum things up, but somehow the way this novel ended seemed very fitting.
A fascinating peek inside English upper crust and the 'lower' crust. Set in the early 1800s (I think), it's the story of an intelligent whore and the man who is so captivated by her, he loses himself.
The pictures of her life on the street and his, spent navigating the murky waters of his wife's bizarre beharior, is rather Dickensian.
The title, which immediately sets a contrast, kept me guessing all the way through. Which character is the Crimson Petal and which is the White? Faber continually shifts the characterizations so that the reader is always guessing.
Would I read this book again? I loved it, but probably not. The reason? The major effect of this book is the mystery inherent in the title. Now that I've read it and know the ending the enigma is solved for me.
If you can stomach through sexually explicit scenes and language, you'll find a delightful read. This will explore themes of religion, social stratification, cleanliness and family. The characters are vividly portrayed.
bookaddict reviewed The Crimson Petal and the White on
Helpful Score: 8
A well-written but a bit rambly story of a prostitute in 19th century London. Some great details. Loved the way the story ended, although some I know felt that it disappointed. Just not sure it had to be as long as it was--a bit diffuse. Enjoyable read on the whole--I would recommend this.
I picked this book up because my book club was reading it, and then I never got to read it at that time or discuss it with them. Not all that intrigued with the story synopsis on the book's cover, I read it quite a bit later. I thought I was going to hate it, but I had this brand new (very long, expensive) book and felt I needed to pick it up and give it a try. I was surprised... I enjoyed the story more than I thought I would.
The story takes place in victorian England. It's the story of a prostitute, her client, and his extremely proper family. The characters are all very interesting and well developed. There are parts of the story that are a little slow, but if you stick with it, it gets interesting again.
If you're easily offended, I would steer clear of this. There are some parts of the story that are a little gross. However, if you don't mind some graphic descriptions, you'll probably like this book. It's different from anything else you've ever read.
I have been reading for many years and this is by far the worst book I have ever read. I started the book over 2 years ago, got approximately 100 pages in and could not go any further and abandoned it. I forced myself to pick it up recently and was determined to give it a 2nd chance and finish it. Unfortunately, it never improved. I felt the author was overly discriptive of everything and unnecessarily most of the time. I kept getting the feeling that he was trying too hard. The book was dark and depressing which in of itself wasnt a bad thing but you factor in the ending and it all just seems like a waste of time.