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The Crimson Petal and the White

by

The Crimson Petal and the White Cover

 

Awards

New York Times Notable Book

Synopses & Reviews

From Powells.com:

This entertaining and morally persuasive portrait of 19th-century London society, from the lowliest of the low to the haughtiest of the high, has been widely hailed as "Dickensian." A better term would be "hyper-Dickensian." Faber's filthy guttersnipes are too wretched, his foppish dandies too pompous, and his scheming whores too cunning — and his outlook far too (deliciously) cynical— for the author of Great Expectations. Like Madonna's vinyl corset, Michel Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White is a Victorian artifact retooled for the 21st century. Farley, Powells.com

Publisher Comments:

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. Michel 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 into a better life. Her ascent through the strata of Victorian 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 of her brings her into proximity to his extended family and milieu: his unhinged, child-like wife, Agnes; his mysteriously hidden-away daughter, Sophie; and 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 is 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 a singular literary achievement — a gripping, intoxicating, deeply satisfying Victorian novel written with an immediacy, compassion, and insight that give it a timeless and universal appeal.

Review:

"Tell[s] a good story grippingly and colorfully... An old-fashioned page-turner with pleasingly new-fangled twists."The Washington Post Book World

Review:

"[An] enthralling melodrama....It's hard to imagine...that readers who hunger for story won't devour this like grateful wolves. Riveting, and absolutely unforgettable." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Gorgeous. Capable of rendering the muck of a London street and the delicate humming-bird flights of thought with equal ease." Time

Review:

"[A] gloves-off kind of novel, one not to be passed along lightly to your grandmother. Cocky and brilliant, amused and angry, the author is rightfully earning comparisons to observer extraordinaire Charles Dickens." Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"Ambitious and accomplished ... Nothing could have prepared readers for the sweep and subtlety of The Crimson Petal and the White." The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"[D]on't wait for the movie. Read The Crimson Petal and the White now, while it's still a living, laughing, sweating, coruscating mass of gorgeous words....And although it's almost 300 pages longer than The Corrections, miraculously it feels shorter." Time

Review:

"Readers...are in for a lasting love affair; the intimate relationship one develops with the characters after reading for 834 pages is much more staisfying than the mere one-night-stand promised by most novels." People

Review:

"If you start reading this suspenseful, beautifully written novel, with its compelling characters, subtle psychology, wit and heart, you won't be able to stop." New York Newsday

Review:

"[B]reathtaking....[P]art saga, part morality play, and utterly engrossing....This massive work is startling and absorbing. Readers will not soon forget the richly drawn world into which they have been enticed." Ilene Cooper, Booklist (Starred Review)

About the Author

Michel Faber is the author of Under the Skin and Some Rain Must Fall. His work has been published in 20 countries and received several literary awards. He lives in Scotland.

Table of Contents

CONTENTS

PART 1: -The Streets

PART 2: -The House of Ill Repute

PART 3: -The Private Rooms and the

Public Haunts

PART 4: -The Bosom of the Family

PART 5: -The World at Large

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 7 comments:

Sobri, February 2, 2013 (view all comments by Sobri)
If I had to give a one-word response to the big, sprawling monster of a faux-Victorian novel that is The Crimson Petal and the White, it would be 'WOW'. (With capitals. Yes.) At 895 pages, it's a big book, and it's not without its flaws, but such is the quality of the writing, the characterisation and the staggering amount of research that went into it that I was enthralled from beginning to end and stayed up until 4am on a weekday night to be able to read the last four hundred pages. I don't regret the sleep I lost that night; if anything, I regret that there weren't four hundred more pages to stay up for. That's how much I liked the book.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
ryan stuart, June 29, 2011 (view all comments by ryan stuart)
like jane austen with dirty words.

i write that only mildly tongue-in-cheek; only future literary potentates will decide whether this book belongs in The Canon, as jane austen certainly does, but faber's book certainly has equal scope and similar concerns, and fine, fine writing.

we contemporary humans tend to look at austen's work in one sense as rather quaint--entire tomes about niceties of courtship and marriage, social position, and how the wrong hat can ruin a woman. but in fact these issues were economic, life-and-death issues for women who had few (to no) other options for financial security. faber certainly gets this, and he makes painfully, horribly clear what happens to those women who fail to make a good match.

and he gets women. his portraits of Sugar and Agnes are enthralling, Sugar in particular. the warps in her character caused by her debasement are painful (and sometimes, in a black humor way, very funny) and appalling. one can't help but pity her, and not in an i'm-so-superior way, because faber makes us feel the inevitability of it. and yet she's also extraordinary in her fight to retain her own dignity. i'm pretty sure that if i were in her little lace-up boots, i'd drink or drug myself to death at a fast clip, but Sugar fights and keeps on fighting for both her intellect and her heart. you just can't help, in the end, but admire her.

i won't witter on about all the characters. suffice it to say that by the end of the book, the main characters have all been treated to a painstaking examination, and none are perfect, but all are achingly human. warts and all.

austen had the advantage of writing about her own times, to an audience that swam in that sea; faber has the uphill battle of not only having had to do a brain-pounding quantity of research, but also having to convey the particulars to an audience only tenuously connected to the times. the details of this book are staggering, yet slipped in so naturally that readers will find no life preserver is needed. it's an astonishing accomplishment.

it's also so ingeniously plotted that you can't put it down, a cruel thing in a book this long (and weighty). i'm going to toddle off and catch up with my sleep now, having been up til 1am finishing it off. you just go read the book.
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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
bookeaze, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by bookeaze)
By far, one of the best books I have read in a number of years...his deliciously descriptive writing is totally engaging from the first page.
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View all 7 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780156028776
Author:
Faber, Michel
Publisher:
Mariner Books
Location:
Orlando, Fla.
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Great britain
Subject:
History
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
London
Subject:
Young women
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
Prostitutes
Subject:
Perfumes industry
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st Harvest ed.
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Series Volume:
108-64
Publication Date:
September 1, 2003
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
920
Dimensions:
8 x 5.31 in 2.04 lb

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Crimson Petal and the White Used Trade Paper
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$8.95 In Stock
Product details 920 pages Harvest Books - English 9780156028776 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Tell[s] a good story grippingly and colorfully... An old-fashioned page-turner with pleasingly new-fangled twists."
"Review" by , "[An] enthralling melodrama....It's hard to imagine...that readers who hunger for story won't devour this like grateful wolves. Riveting, and absolutely unforgettable."
"Review" by , "Gorgeous. Capable of rendering the muck of a London street and the delicate humming-bird flights of thought with equal ease."
"Review" by , "[A] gloves-off kind of novel, one not to be passed along lightly to your grandmother. Cocky and brilliant, amused and angry, the author is rightfully earning comparisons to observer extraordinaire Charles Dickens."
"Review" by , "Ambitious and accomplished ... Nothing could have prepared readers for the sweep and subtlety of The Crimson Petal and the White."
"Review" by , "[D]on't wait for the movie. Read The Crimson Petal and the White now, while it's still a living, laughing, sweating, coruscating mass of gorgeous words....And although it's almost 300 pages longer than The Corrections, miraculously it feels shorter."
"Review" by , "Readers...are in for a lasting love affair; the intimate relationship one develops with the characters after reading for 834 pages is much more staisfying than the mere one-night-stand promised by most novels."
"Review" by , "If you start reading this suspenseful, beautifully written novel, with its compelling characters, subtle psychology, wit and heart, you won't be able to stop."
"Review" by , "[B]reathtaking....[P]art saga, part morality play, and utterly engrossing....This massive work is startling and absorbing. Readers will not soon forget the richly drawn world into which they have been enticed."
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