Saturday, October 17, 2009

Book 111: Tipping the Velvet

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

While this was her debut novel, it is the third I've read by Waters. My favorite so far is Fingersmith. The narrator is Nancy Astley of Whitstable who falls for Kitty Butler when Kitty comes to her town as a "masher." Basically, she is a performer who makes her living by performing as a man - apparently, it was quite a popular act at one point in history.

Nancy goes to London with her, first as her dresser, and eventually joins her on stage when Kitty's manager realizes that having a pair of performers would be the thing to distinguish them. Things go well as they become more popular but Kitty is very much in the closet, and fears even being thought of as a lesbian. This makes their relationship very secretive, and eventually Kitty chooses respectability over Nancy.

Nancy is of course devastated, and ends up locking herself away from the world for a while. Eventually, she finds a new occupation until finally stumbling upon the rich lady Diana who turns her into her mistress. Of course this is not the last turn in Nancy's fortunes.

Overall, I was a fun novel but at times I didn't always like Nancy very much. In the beginning, of course, she was very easy to relate to but I disliked the way she completely abandoned her family and broke off all her contact with them. She also displayed quite a bit of selfishness at other points in the novel, and seemed quite jaded and cynical at some points in the novel. Overall, however, I liked her story, and the fact that I disagreed with some of her decisions so strongly was because I was hoping for her to do the smart and right thing.

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