The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber

Okay, first, I must be in the minority because I actually found the narrator to be entertaining.  Amusing, even.  

Second, this book is, obviously, very long, and is not the sort of book you can read right through.  Not to me, anyway.  I found myself growing very bored around page 300, so I took a break and read something else.  Krentz’s Running Hot, to be precise.  Not great, but not bad, either.  But, I digress . . .

Bored again at around page 650, which is when the novel really started to strain my credulity, I read The Edge of Town by Dorothy Garlock (again, not great, but not bad).   This is about the time Sugar volunteers her services as Sophie’s governess.  What gentleman of the time would install his mistress, and not a well-born mistress at that, in such a position?  Seduce the governess, yes, hire one already seduced, no. 

Not that I wasn’t taken aback before this, by the realization that Agnes was unaware of exactly what bleeding “down there” signified.  I know that Victorian women were largely ignorant about their bodies, but, geez.  The principal functions of women in the upper echelons of Society were to act as armcandy and to bear children.

I very much liked this book, but only in smaller measures rather in a huge gulp.  I’m told there is a collection of short stories about the characters, The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories, which I’d love to read, but my local library doesn’t have it.  I’m just dying to know what happened to Sugar, though I’m told the stories don’t tell us that.


Although Sugar is the “heroine” of Crimson Petal, I actually found Agnes Rackham and Caroline to be more interesting characters.  I found Agnes’s decline fascinating and just loved Caroline’s cheerful pragmatism.

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars


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