Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Crimson and White

I've just, last night, finished reading The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber.  I'm hoping this means I'll be able to sleep more as it was hard to put down in places!

It was recommended to me by a beautiful and interesting woman I met in a park in Leeds. While our respective children played happily we chatted about the joys of photography and writing.

I told her about a character in a story I'm writing who seems inclined to be a murderous whore, and she told me to read this book.

I'm glad she did, because it's a good story, which leaves you wanting more and sympathising with all the flawed characters. The writing is also lovely, especially in the beginning of the book, which is nothing short of fantastic (although Patrick Rothfuss keeps the prize for best first line ever).

Apparently this was adapted for TV. Did you see it? Have you read it? If you have read it, could you please answer a question for me? Why did Sugar choose to enter the household? Surely she would know that a man who loses his mistress gains a vacancy?  I'm talking fictional characters here, no slur meant on any real men. Other than those with mistresses, happy to slur away there.

I'm loath to give away too much really, because it's a great book and I wouldn't want to spoil it for you.  But I think I'm safe to say that it's set in Victorian London, and that it uses a narrative device I don't recall coming across before, but I really like.  It's almost, nearly, probably, in the second person.  Which is really hard to do, and Faber hasn't quite actually done it - rather it's in the third person, but not omnipotent.  I hope you have a clue what I'm talking about.  Basically the story teller is a mind reading invisible monkey which jumps from one character's back to another.  It can only read the mind of the character it's on, and can only pass on through contact.  Most of the time anyway.

The story-teller speaks directly to the reader too, which I really like, and which helps to make it feel more Victorian.

Still of Romola Garai as Sugar from the BBC's
mini-series.
We follow the story of Sugar, a prostitute, her client, a wealthy, and pompous businessman, William Rackham, and his interesting family.  It has a madwoman in the attic (which I must like - there are two books on my favourites list with madwomen in the attic).

Apparently it's quite a long book (I must confess I read it on my Kindle and hadn't realised!), at 830+ pages, but don't let that worry you, it's a very easy read.  If anything it's too short for my liking.  When I finished it I was desperate to know what happened next!  But then I do also like the fact that we don't know everything (although it's not very Victorian).

There's a good review of the book over at The Cat that Walks by Herself, although it does contain spoilers.

If you've read it, or watched the series, let me know what you thought.  If you fancy reading it or watching it, you can buy the book or the DVD from Amazon here.  

The next book  I'm going to be reading is The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama.  Have you read it?  Any good?

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