Having read all of her other books, I finally got round to reading Sarah Waters’ début novel ‘Tipping the Velvet’ this week. This picaresque coming-of-age tale set in the 1890s sees Nancy Astley, an oyster-girl from Whitstable run off to London with music hall performer Kitty Butler who later becomes her lover and co-star on the stage. When her career comes to an abrupt end, Nancy journeys through London exploring her sexuality and experiencing plenty of love, lust and heartbreak along the way.
Although much of what has been written about ‘Tipping the Velvet’ focuses on the presence of lesbian characters, the fact that Sarah Waters is a master of good old-fashioned storytelling must not be overlooked. She knows how to weave an intriguing plot with believable characters. As with all of her other books, the level of historical detail is impressive and blends into the story effortlessly without being either overwhelming or irrelevant – and that even goes for the detailed descriptions of Victorian sex toys. Continue reading