Review: The Crimson Petal & the White by Michel Faber
Author: Michel Faber
Title: The Crimson Petal & the White
Release: September 2003
Source: Personal library
Purchase: | Book Depository
Michel Faber leads us back to 1870s London, where Sugar, a nineteen-year-old whore in the brothel of the terrifying Mrs. Castaway, yearns for escape into a better life. Her ascent through the strata of Victorian Society offers us intimacy with a host of lovable, maddening, unforgettable characters.” They begin with William Rackham, an egotistical perfume magnate whose ambition is fueled by his lust for Sugar, and whose patronage of her brings her into proximity to his extended family and milieu: 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, whose efforts on behalf of The Rescue Society lead Henry into ever-more disturbing confrontations with flesh.
I hadn’t heard of Michel Faber or The Crimson Petal and the White until I discovered the BBC miniseries a few months ago. I was automatically drawn into the world of Miss Sugar, a Victorian era prostitute trying to survive in the slums of London. After watching the miniseries straight through, I decided to give the book a try. After all, books are often even more alluring and captivating than the film adaptations.
Let me just say, I loved this book! My only problem with it was that it was unnecessarily long and included too much prittle-prattle in my humble opinion. One is used to such ramblings after reading so many Stephen King novels. While this is an incredibly detailed account it is by no means a quick read.
Having said that, I found that it was still a remarkable story. There was action, suspense, love, lust, courage, cowardice, humor, and historic facts out the wazoo. Miss Sugar is a character that will stick with you for a lifetime.
The plot was incredibly original, the characters evoked great depth of emotion from love to loathe, and the setting was as historically accurate as one can get. I highly recommend this book to readers, even readers who do not necessarily care for historical fiction. But as previously stated, this is not a quick read. However, once you have invested the time you will be very glad that you did.