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Tipping the Velvet
SARAH WATERS

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
176 reviews (1999) (472p)
Amazon.com Best Books

Visit this book's Amazon.com page >>


Book Description
This stunning and steamy debut chronicles the adventures of Nan King, a small-town girl at the turn of the century whose life takes a wild turn of its own when she follows a local music hall star to London...

"Glorious...a sexy, sinewy sojourn of a young woman in turn-of-the-century England."--The Boston Globe

"Erotic and absorbing...If lesbian fiction is to reach a wider readership, Waters is the person to carry the banner."--The New York Times Book Review

"Wonderful...a sensual experience that leaves the reader marveling at the author's craftsmanship, idiosyncrasy and sheer effort."--The San Francisco Chronicle

"Amazing....This is the lesbian novel we've all been waiting for."--Salon.com

"Compelling...Readers of all sexes and orientations should identify with this gutsy hero as she learns who she is and how to love."--Newsday

"Echoes of Tom Jones, Great Expectations...Waters's debut offers terrific entertainment: pulsating with highly charged (and explicitly presented) erotic heat."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


Amazon.com Review
The heroine of Sarah Waters's audacious first novel knows her destiny, and seems content with it. Her place is in her father's seaside restaurant, shucking shellfish and stirring soup, singing all the while. "Although I didn't long believe the story told to me by Mother--that they had found me as a baby in an oyster-shell, and a greedy customer had almost eaten me for lunch--for eighteen years I never doubted my own oysterish sympathies, never looked far beyond my father's kitchen for occupation, or for love." At night Nancy Astley often ventures to the nearby music hall, not that she has illusions of being more than an audience member. But the moment she spies a new male impersonator--still something of a curiosity in England circa 1888--her years of innocence come to an end and a life of transformations begins.

Tipping the Velvet, all 472 pages of it, is as saucy, as tantalizing, and as touching as the narrator's first encounter with the seductive but shame-ridden Miss Kitty Butler. And at first even Nancy's family is thrilled with her gender-bending pal, all but her sister, best friend, and bedmate, Alice, "her eyes shining cold and dull, with starlight and suspicion." Not to worry. Soon Nancy and Kitty are off to London, their relationship close though (alas for our heroine) sisterly. We know that bliss will come, and it does, in an exceptionally charged moment. A lesser author would have been content to stop her story there, but Waters has much more in mind for her buttonholing heroine, and for us. In brief, her Everywoman with a sexual difference goes from success onstage to heartbreak to a stint as a male prostitute (necessity truly is the mother of invention) to keeping house for a brother and sister in the Labour movement. And did I mention her long stint as a plaything in the pleasure palace of a rich Sapphist extraordinaire? Diana Lethaby is as cruel as she is carnal, and even the well-concealed Cavendish Ladies' Club isn't outré enough for her. Kitting Nancy out in full, elegant drag, she dares the front desk to turn them away. "We are here," she mocks, "for the sake of the irregular."

Only after some seven years of hard twists and sensual turns does Nancy conclude that a life of sensation is not enough. Still, Tipping the Velvet is so entertaining that readers will wish her sentimental--and hedonistic--education had taken twice as long. --Kerry Fried


Other Award Winning Books by Sarah Waters
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
1902 reviews (2014) (576p) (Amazon Top100) (NYT100) (Amazon Top10Lit) (WP Top10) (Hudson Fiction) (Amazon)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
219 reviews (2009) (480p) (Booker)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
219 reviews (2002) (592p) (Booker)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
Affinity by Sarah Waters
109 reviews (2000) (351p) (Amazon)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page

Sarah Waters Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 2  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 2  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 0  
National Book Award Wins 0  
National Book Award Nominations 0  
Man Booker Prize Wins 0  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 2 Fingersmith · The Little Stranger ·  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 0  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award

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