NOW A MAJOR BBC DRAMA starring Romola Garai, Chris O'Dowd, Gillian Anderson, Richard E. Grant, Shirley Henderson, and Mark Gatiss.
'Watch your step. Keep your wits about you; you will need them....' So begins this irresistible voyage into the dark side of Victorian London. Amongst an unforgettable cast of low-lifes, physicians, businessmen, and prostitutes, meet our heroine Sugar, a young woman trying to drag herself up from the gutter any way she can. Be prepared for a mesmerising tale of passion, intrigue, ambition, and revenge.
©2011 Michel Faber (P)2011 W.F. Howes Ltd
"I loved it!"
First let me say that if you dislike crude language I would avoid this book as it treats sex and prostitution quite unflinchingly and describes the world it deals with in a way that I found to be refreshing but may offend some. Normally prostitutes in fiction are depicted as "tart with a heart", sexy siren or cold hard witches. They never seem quite real but this book breathes life into the world it depicts; it evokes sights, smells and characters of this world in sometimes alarming detail. I loved the introduction, the story and the narration. It was quite wonderful
This book is the "Marmite" of historical fiction; readers/listeners will either love it or loathe it. I am definitely in the former category.
The book is a narration of several intertwined people's lives over the period of about a year, the narrator being an integral part.Through these lives, a story of how love comes into the most unlikely of lives. The main characters are Sugar, a much sought after prostitute with many qualities not usually found in the fallen women of fiction, and William, a typical Victorian father who thinks he is anything but typical of his class and time. The story weaves through Sugar and William meeting and her deciding to improve her lot because of William's infatuation for her.
There are a number of supporting characters, and rather than the usual story of a "tart with a heart" winning her man, "Pretty Woman" style, it is the slow development of love in those characters who both crave it and think they're beyond it.
To begin with, I was felt cheated by the somewhat abrupt end, wanting to know more about what happened to the characters. However, the more I thought about I reaslised that I didn't need to know at all; the author told us undirectly and there were happy endings for those who deserved it most.
I can recommend this book to anyone, especially women as I don't think it's particularly a man's book, who enjoys a saga and isn't offended by graphic descriptions of the world inhabited by prostitutes and their clients. The narration is superb, the nuances and inflections add perfect undercurrents to the book. I can do nothing more than recommend this highly and strongly recommend that listeners give it a go - you'll either love it or hate it.
"An Enthrawling Journey"
I've just finished reading this and I have to say that this book was absolutely superb! Some reviewers have said that it's too long. Long it is, but the level of detail carefully rendered in the words of this excellently written story serve to paint a vivid set of characters in an equally well defined world. Faber's style of writing is one of unhurried story-telling which allows the reader to better understand the characters that inhabit this world. It's a style I was instantly impressed with from start to finish. Other authors often rush a story fearing that the reader would lose interest in the plot if they didn't move things along at perhaps an unrealistic rate. No, Faber allows his story to slowly mature permitting the reader to "live" this world with him.
His story is character driven (as all good stories are) but the reader gains real insight into their inner thoughts and feelings over time just like actually getting to know someone in real life.
This tail is like a fine wine that can only be appreciated with time and care and Faber delivers both in generous measure.
I could go on uttering many superlatives about this book and all wouldn't do it justice in my opinion. Take the time to read this story and you will be drawn into a rich and enthralling place you wont want to leave.
Like others here, I too was desperate to find out more about what happens to the characters seen here as soon as I'd finished the book so acquainted you feel with them by the time it's sadly all over.
Yes, there is a peppering of bad language throughout, but it's required to give the story its gritty and visceral sense of reality that this journey is. Narration I found to be excellent with the various tones and accents of each character done with aplomb.
Finally, this book has a host of words I'd never come across, so it's given me plenty of opportunity to extend my vocabulary when I look up what they all mean.
Start your enthrawling journey today and enjoy!
"frustrating ending, fab story"
I loved, loved, loved this book, listened to it in the car, in bed, in the bath, I loved the way the story was told as a journey, and how we followed the characters through time, and even through each other. I admired Sugar, loved little Sophie, felt sorry for poor Agnes and so wanted to know what happened to them in the end, and was sad to not find out. This book is long, I loved every minute but wanted, no, needed to know more about how my beloved characters ended up..... part 2 please Mr Faber!
"great sense of place..sorely in need of editing"
Firstly to the narration, it was great, I really enjoyed the voice and the timing. The book however is a somewhat different story. personally I am greedy as to length of books, the longer the better, one of the factors that swayed me into purchasing this one was the 50(ish) hours length. Oh how I wish I had those 50 hours back, or at least wasn't so stubborn about finishing it once I had started. The book gives a fabulous sense of place, the time, the social conditions of the era. But it is simply too wordy and drawn out. Minor characters are developed and then vanish with no real impact on the plot. And I hated the ending...I like things to be wrapped up in a nice neat unequivocal ending..this lacked that. All in all listening to this book was an exercise in frustration, there is a great book lurking in this overly obese story.
This book is an education in itself... beautifully written, and now, narrated, it is a non-hurried look in depth at life in Victorian England, covering many themes, including prostitution, the poor, the sick mental illness and the background to women's rise and suffrage.
Do yourself a favour..take the time to read this... it will open your eyes.... The BBC dramatisation has also been done in a first class way.... well done everybody....especially the author.
When I was at school, we were taught that a good story had a beginning, a middle and an end and that the most frequent failing of young writers was to devote too much time and space to the beginning and middle and then have to rush the ending. If Michael Faber was taught this at his school, he has clearly forgotten the lesson.
This book has an intriguing start and we are drawn into Victorian London; its strata of society, the hardship of the poor contrasting with the fecklessness of the rich, all carried along by strong narration. A good tale is being woven, with interesting characters and I was always keen to find out what would happen next. However after about 15 hours listening, I began to wonder where the story was heading. Lots of social comment, an abundance of period detail but slow progress on the storyline. After 30 hours, I was beginning to despair. I felt a little ashamed because it's undoubtedly well written and well read but does seem to drag so!
In the end, it became almost a badge of honour to finish the damn thing and, at around 42 hours it stopped. Not with an ending but right in the middle, as if the author had run out of steam or had not the wit to concoct a decent finish. Having listened for the equivalent of a working week, I felt let down, cheated even, and begrudged having invested so much when I could have enjoyed something else.
The book has had some rave reviews so I guess I'm in a minority. Perhaps it was just too literary for me...
I very much enjoyed the book until the ending. I believe many readers will feel they are left hanging. If the author were planning a sequel to continue the story, I would withdraw my criticism and rate the book 5 stars.
I had heard that this book was amazing, so was thrilled to see it as an audiobook and didn't hesitate to download it. However I really wish I had read it rather than listened to it as I found the narration clunky with poor meter and flow and littered with mis-pronunciations which rather dragged me out of the story.
If I hadn't paid so much for it I may have ditched it all together, but rather foolishly ploughed on.
I watched some of this story on television and was desperate to know what happened at the end. It was also really interesting hearing the difference between the screen version and the authors written word. Both were superb. I listened to the whole book almost without pause. Brilliant!!
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