Sunday, 17 April 2016

Review: Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

Title: Tipping the Velvet
Author: Sarah Waters
Year: 1998
Publisher: Virago
Pages: 472

Nancy is your typical young girl in Victorian England. She helps her parents out in their oyster restaurant, and enjoys going to the music halls every once in a while. When one night she sees male impersonator Miss Kitty Butler perform, her whole life changes.  

The novel is divided into two parts, the first of which describing Nancy falling in love with Kitty. This part really shows Waters' writing skills, as you're truly experiencing first love all over again. You understand the emotional rollercoaster Nancy is going through - you feel happy when she's happy, but you're also as heart-broken as Nancy when she is.   

The second part is a lot different. I don't mean to spoil anything, but Nancy goes through so much - from being a whiny, heartbroken girl, to becoming a male prostitute, to becoming someone's sexslave, back to being a heartbroken girl. It's epic, it's big, amazingly written, but it's rushed, and lacks a depth I would have preferred. You experience life with Nancy through some of the most crucial moments in her life, yet you don't truly get to know her as you don't know what she's thinking. It seems as though Waters was rushing the story a little bit, focusing too much on plot development. That is not to say that there isn't any character development - there is, her actions change, but we don't know what moves her in that direction.  

One of the most magical aspects of this novel is the way in which it makes you feel like you're actually there. Events are described in great detail, allowing you to experience what is happening, but Waters also describes the surroundings so well - you almost smell the oysters in the beginning, see busy London, and feel the enchantment of the theatre.   

Tipping the Velvet is the debut novel of the now highly acclaimed novelist Sarah Waters. This is also the first Sarah Waters I've read, and I'm mesmerised, and certainly going to be reading more of this author's work. As I said, I enjoyed the first part more than the second, based off the fact that this was only her first novel, I can only imagine she has become even better an author, and I'm looking forward to reading more of her work. 

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