The Crimson Petal and the White
Published by Canongate Books Genres: Fiction / Gothic, Fiction / Historical / General
Sugar is an alluring 19 year-old prostitute who plies her trade at Mrs Castaway's brothel in late 19th century London. Her aim is to lift her body and soul out of the gutter.
Watch your step. Keep your wits about you; you will need them. This city I am bringing you to is vast and intricate, and you have not been here before. 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. The truth is that you are an alien from another time and place altogether.Opening lines of The Crimson Petal and the White
This is how it begins and from here the author takes us by the hand and leads us into a world of Victorian London that we’ve never experienced before. Dickensian maybe but with a realism that has no room for sentimentality. Faber doesn’t shirk from the grisly details of bodily fluids and skin diseases.
Michel Faber writes of life in Victorian London in a novel that was first published in 2002 and later adapted into a 2011 mini series, starring Romola Garai and Chris O’Dowd. The story follows the life of Sugar, a young sex worker who is trying to escape her life of poverty and despair. She befriends William, a wealthy man who seems to be her only hope for a better life. But as their relationship grows, Sugar begins to wonder if she is merely a pawn in William’s game. The Crimson Petal and the White is a dark and gritty novel that is not for the faint of heart. I first read this after picking it up in a charity shop when I was on holiday and devoured it whole!