The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber

June 1, 2015 Historical Fiction, Women's Studies 13

Greetings Bookworms,

If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you’ll probably know that I have a penchant for what I lovingly refer to as “hooker books.” That’s right, kids, I love a good book about prostitution. Not in a pornographic way, but a historical fiction way. I find them absolutely fascinating to the point where I made a list of them while discussing the brilliant Emma Donoghue’s book, Astray. To my astonishment, EMMA FRIGGIN DONOGHUE read my post. Then she left a comment in which she recommended I read Michael Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White. Of course, it took me almost 3 years to get around to reading it, but I finally did, and wahooooooo hooker books!

crimsonpetalandthewhiteSugar is a 19 year old prostitute in Victorian England. She was forced into the world’s oldest profession by her mother (of all people) and spends her free time penning revenge fantasy novels. Her life takes an interesting turn one night when she meets up and coming perfume magnate William Rackham. Rackham soon becomes obsessed with Sugar and pays to keep her at his personal disposal. Sugar’s rise in fortune lands her in a new world- one very different yet nearly as dangerous as the one she’s just left.

The Crimson Petal and the White was a big, fat chunkster. It was quite good, if you like hooker books, but it wasn’t the speediest of reads. It had other perks for me, of course. On Facebook, I saw a friend discussing how multi-layered sheets and waterproof pads on crib mattresses are a life saver for late night blowouts. Whipping off the top sheet once a child spews vile secretions is apparently much less trouble than remaking a crib in the middle of the night. Obviously, I had to chime in that I’d heard great things about the method… In a book about a Victorian era prostitute. Because you KNOW Sugar totes used that method in her back alley days. I’m pretty lucky in that my friends aren’t easily offended when I inadvertently compare their children to prostitutes, but I wouldn’t recommend the habit, as a general rule.

Talk to me, Bookworms! What’s your most recent incident of spurting out an inappropriate book factoid?

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13 Responses to “The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber”

  1. Shannon @ River City Reading

    I’ve been wanting to read this one for so, so long. I think I did the bad reader thing and read Michel Faber’s newest book first, and even though I wasn’t thrilled by it, I still feel like this one is in my wheelhouse.

  2. Megan M.

    Oh, gosh. Inappropriate fact-blurting is a thing with which I am familiar. Once my mom agreed to give my crush a ride home (we were teens) and he jokingly called himself a “tree-hugger.” And so I asked him if he was a dendrophiliac, which is *mumbles* apersonwhohassexwithtrees. WHAT? I HAD JUST WATCHED A VERY STRANGE DOCUMENTARY ON HBO, OKAY? After we dropped him off my mom was like, “I cannot BELIEVE you said that.”

  3. Jenny @ Reading the End

    I am the absolute worst for historical factoids blurting. For a while I was reading a ton about the Victorian pornography trade (I’m sure that was fun for my family), and now I’m on a kick of reading about postconflict states and colonialism in Africa, which is HELLA DARK in terms of fact-blurting. I have to remind myself that not everybody wants to hear about GENOCIDE over their morning coffee.

  4. Christy

    Like Jenny above, my inappropriate book factoids are usually related to reading something dark, like did you know circus tents used to waterproof their big tops with paraffin? And as a result there was a huge circus fire in Hartford that killed lots of children? And the year that I read non-fiction books about the Rwandan genocide, AIDS in the 1980s, “ethnic cleansing” in Bosnia, and Camp Greyhound (Hurricane Katrina), my poor roommate had to hear about each and every one.

  5. Katie @ Doing Dewey

    How cool! I think it’s so fun that an author you love recommended this to you. I just finally read Mary Roach’s Stiff and was sharing all sorts of facts I think my fiance would rather never have known 🙂

  6. Leah @ Books Speak Volumes

    I haven’t read this book (yet!) but hearing about it always reminds me of the episode of Gilmore Girls where Richard’s mother dies and Emily LOSES HER MARBLES and sits around drinking and smoking and reading this book in her bathrobe, and she goes on a tipsy rant about the vivid characters. It’s wonderful.

Talk to me, Bookworms!

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