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The Crimson Petal and the White

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Description

Meet Sugar, a nineteen-year-old prostitute in nineteenth-century London who yearns for escape to a better life. From the brothel of the terrifying Mrs. Castaway, she begins her ascent through society, meeting a host of lovable, maddening, unforgettable characters on the way. They begin with William Rackham, an egotistical perfume magnate whose empire is fueled by his lust for Sugar; 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. All this is overseen by assorted preening socialites, drunken journalists, untrustworthy servants, vile guttersnipes, and whores of all stripes and persuasions.

Teeming with life, this is a big, juicy must-read of a novel that has enthralled hundreds of thousands of readers-and will continue to do so for years to come.

From Publishers Weekly

Jul 01, 2002 – Faber's bawdy, brilliant second novel tells an intricate tale of love and ambition and paints a new portrait of Victorian England and its citizens in prose crackling with insight and bravado. Using the wealthy Rackham clan as a focal point for his sprawling, gorgeous epic, Faber, like Dickens or Hardy, explores an era's secrets and social hypocrisy.William Rackham is a restless, rebellious spirit, mistrustful of convention and the demands of his father's perfume business. While spying on his sickly wife's maid, whom he suspects of thievery, he begins a slow slide into depravity: he meets Sugar, a whore whose penetrating mind and love of books intrigues him as much as her beauty and carnal skills do. Faber (Under the Skin) also weaves in the stories of Agnes, William's delicate, mad and manipulative wife, and Henry, his pious, morally conflicted brother, both of whom seek escape from their private prisons through fantasies and small deceptions. Sin and vice both attract and repel the brothers: William, who becomes obsessed with Sugar, rescues her from her old life, while Henry, paralyzed by his love for Emmeline Fox, a comely widow working to rescue the city's prostitutes, slowly unravels.Faber's central characters, especially the troubled William and the ambitious Sugar, shine with life, and the author is no less gifted in capturing the essence of his many minor characters—the evil madam, Mrs. Castaway, and William's pompous father-in-law, Lord Unwin. The superb plot draws on a wealth of research and briskly moves through the lives of each character—whether major or minor, upstairs or downstairs—gathering force until the fates of all are revealed. A marvelous story of erotic love, sin, familial conflicts and class prejudice, this is a deeply entertaining masterwork that will hold readers captive until the final page.

Customer Reviews

Is it worth it?

I almost gave up on this book on page 79. I thought the inventive way the author brought the reader into the story was getting tedious. However I stuck with it. I was rewarded with a rich tale that truth be told went on a little too long. Perhaps the author thought so too as they abandoned the reader well before the story was finished. Did the author not know where the characters were going or simply tire of typing? Perhaps thoughts of a sequel? More than 2500 pages with no resolution. Would I do it again?

Well worth sticking to the end....

I found the introduction to the characters very original, and the way the author allowed the reader to feel we were watching this story unfold from a voyeur point of view. Infinitely more erotic than fifty shades of grey.....one becomes so invested in the life of Sugar, that you hang on to each chapter, fearful of the outcome....the ending is completely satisfying .....

Top 5 favorite books EVER

I've read this book many times over and I never tire of it... I keep waiting for a sequel that i fear will never come. The writing style is my most favorite part of this book, but you al really get attached to the main character, Sugar, and you want to see her make it.

I've read a lot of books over the course of my life and this is my gold standard for writing. If you like historical fiction, you'll love this book.

The Crimson Petal and the White
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Fiction & Literature
  • Published: Sep 01, 2003
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Seller: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
  • Print Length: 848 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings