Tipping the Velvet

Tipping the Velvet - Sarah Waters I wish there were more books like this story out there. Stories about groups of people in past time periods that have previously not been written about are very interesting. We seem to have an uncountable number of books about rich debutantes and heiresses during the Victorian era but not many about working class oyster girls, performers and lesbians. And I am on the record saying I want more books about oyster girls, performers and lesbians -- of any era. Tipping the Velvet can be generically described as a coming of age and self discovery book. It promises a happily ever after -- one perhaps not imagined but which is rewarding. Sarah Waters has a way with words. Her descriptions of sight and smell create atmosphere and absolutely textually enhance the story. The main character -- "Nan" - is one that I slowly began to root for and like but not a character I necessarily started off caring for. What struck me is how different the world I live in today is from even just the recent past. I cannot imagine having to abandon my family (perhaps) and be completely circumspect about my partner all because my partner was the same gender as myself. And of course I can't imagine that because I have never truly had to do that. Sarah Waters brings such sacrifices and unknown privilege to her readers but she does so in the guise of a beautiful and rewarding story. And yes, there are explicit scenes in this novel. An interesting aspect of the story is that to be free of the female gender role is to dress as a man and go out in public as a man. Women of this era lived highly restrictive lives and had very restrictive opportunities, but dressing as a man provided a freedom not only from male attention but from the restrictions imposed on females during this era. Being a woman as such a role was a defined during this era was by default limiting. Ms. Waters, plays with this concept. I have read one other book by Waters -- Affinity -- in both novels she effectively equate a woman's prescribed role and a woman's limitations in a society with a society's judgment of distaste for same-sex relationships. What really surprised me, is the acceptance by several characters of the same sex relationships. I have no framework from which to criticize their acceptance and I hope their was acceptance but I guess I am doubtful if such acceptance is historically accurate. But if you don't want to go heavy and think about societal analysis, you don't have to. Tipping the Velvet is beautifully written, interesting and yeah there is sex.