Average Customer Review:
( 203 customer reviews )
Write an online review and share your thoughts with other customers.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
68 of 70 found the following review helpful:
Good god, what a triumph!Sep 26, 2000
When I heard about this book, I thought, "Victorian-era erotica? I don't think so!" But in the end, it turns out that my thirst for totally engrossing, wonderfully entertaining, and incredibly well-written lesbian fiction has at last been quenched. Nearly 500 pages was barely enough of Waters' evocative tale of Nancy Astley, aka Nan King, and her life and times as a newly out "tom" (surely the 19th-century English equivalent of "dyke"), a male-impersonating prostitute, a kept "boy," and finally a self-realizing adult. The sights, smells, sounds, tastes of turn-of-the-century England were so brilliantly captured that I couldn't wait to take the subway somewhere, anywhere, so that I could sit down and read without anyone bothering me! The novel is an erotic and emotional triumph. I can't wait to read Affinity, Waters' next...it's already sitting on my desk. If I haven't raved enough about this book, take my word that it's highly recommended.
55 of 59 found the following review helpful:
Unique And Delightful - A Must-Read!Jun 13, 2003
By Jana L. Perskie
I was skeptical when I picked up "Tipping The Velvet" at a local bookstore. I do not like labels, and Sarah Waters's first novel had been touted by the press, and readers alike, as a "lesbian novel," whatever that means. However, the book's synopsis on the back cover, drew me in and I took a chance and bought it. I am so glad that I did. What a delight!
This is a historical novel, set in a Victorian England that few have glimpsed. And "Tipping The Velvet" allows us to view it all, center stage. It is a story peopled with characters that are fleshed out so believably, it is almost like reading with 3-D glasses. The characters, especially Nancy Astley, come right off the page and have the capacity to touch your heart and make you care...deeply.
Nancy is born and raised in an English seaside resort where her parents own an oyster restaurant, and Nancy can shuck with the best of them. She seems perfectly content with her lot in life, loves her family and imagines that someday she will marry one of the neighborhood boys and have a family of her own. During the summer months, when business is booming, Nancy frequents a nearby town's music hall for entertainment. Thus Passion enters her life with a capital "P."
Nancy sees a male impersonator perform for the first time on an evening excursion to the hall. Not just any male impersonator...but the ever so seductive Miss Kitty Butler. Nance is entranced and obsessed with Kitty. She schemes to meet the object of her devotion and becomes first, Kitty's friend, then her employee/girl Friday. Her once normal life is turned topsy-turvy, filled with passionate fantasies. Her family is delighted with Kitty "the celebrity" friend, and accepts her completely. However, Alice, Nancy's sister, and until recently her best friend, is hostile and suspicious of the relationship between her sister and the performer. With the changing seasons, business falls off and Kitty is on the move. She takes Nancy with her to a newer and bigger gig in London, where our heroine loses her innocence, in more ways than one. Adventure, disillusionment and major heartbreak loom on the horizon for our Nancy - until she finds herself reaching rock bottom. If you don't know what "rock bottom," sometimes called "the pits," is in Victorian England, you may want to reread Dickens.
It takes seven years for Nancy to climb out of the pit she fell into, (or was she pushed?), and fashion a life for herself. Her attempts to earn a living wage are outrageous, fascinating and ingenious. The folks she meets along the way are absolute originals. The take on London's local color, sexual and socialist politics, and social and sexual mores are delicious.
Sarah Waters is an extraordinary writer and teller of tales. This is so much more than a book about a woman's sexuality...although sexuality is an important aspect of the novel. Ms. Waters writes about the fight for selfhood and independence in a world where these terms mean little, especially for a female. I just couldn't put this one down and look forward to reading more work by Ms. Waters. I give this my most highly recommended seal of approval!!!
26 of 28 found the following review helpful:
Tom Jones with a heartNov 25, 1999
By amy bloom
I have read two very,very good picaresque novels in my life and after Kate Vaiden and Huck Finn, there's Tom Jones, which is pretty good. Tipping the Velvet has the strength and earthy sensibility and observation of Twain, the poignant threads of Reynolds price plus--it's got some genuinely erotic bits, great style, history,panache and charm. It may cause straight women and men of all kinds to wish that they were lesbians (like the protagonist) but it is a book open to anyone literate. What a true Christmas pudding of a book.
17 of 17 found the following review helpful:
Kudos to Sarah WatersJul 06, 1999
This is a wonderful book. I couldn't put it down, and when I did have to, I couldn't wait to get back to it. It is an excellent view into Victorian England with great attention to detail. I felt such sympathy for Nan. Your heart will soar and break with hers. As another reader has written, I felt as if I was in the book myself; right alongside Nan. In the four days it took me to read this novel, nothing else in the world seemed to matter. It is so touching and compelling. Oh, and lest I forget, it's quite erotic as well. I hope for a sequel (are you reading this Ms. Waters?). Do yourself a favor and buy this book. Enjoy.
19 of 20 found the following review helpful:
A tip of the hat to Tipping the VelvetAug 09, 2000
I bought this book almost a year ago when it first came out and then never had a chance to read it until recently. How I am sorry that I waited so long to do so. An incredible romp through the cities of England and the streets of London. Sarah Waters has a true gift for bringing characters to life. I found myself wanting to join Nancy on her journey. There are so many twists and turns that you are often left wondering "how is Waters going to get Nance out of this one?" And just as you think there is no hope and that our heroine will surely be lost forever, Waters pulls out all the stops and twists us around yet again into a loop that makes complete sense and leaves us wanting more.
The moment I finished reading Tipping the Velvet, I wanted to start all over again.
See all 203 customer reviews on Amazon.com