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Towers of Books Come Tumbling Down!

I love all kinds of books! For all my friends, I am known on GR as Alicja. I don't stick with a genre, that's boring. Instead you'll get reviews from the most random assortment of fiction and non-fiction works. It's probably due to my interests being as eclectic as my book tastes.


I'm a girlfriend-loving bisexual, science fiction geek, PC gamer, historical fiction devourer, hiker, atheist, history buff, opera lover, vegetarian, kayaker, metal and hard rock concert goer, science nerd, politics debater, world traveler, M/M romance fan, and I have the ability to transform from an adult-like hard-working professional into a screaming fangirl in five seconds flat.

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

Tipping the Velvet - Sarah Waters

Rating: 2.5/5

Summary: Taking place primarily in the 1890s, Nancy is an oyster girl at her parent’s restaurant. One day she sees an act in the theatre, Miss Kitty Butler performing dressed as a man, and falls in love with her. They become friends, she follows Kitty to London as her dresser, and eventually joins the act as they become “sweethearts.” However, Kitty betrays her and Nancy ends up on her own in the middle of London with little money and her costumes.

Review: Waters is brilliant in using period language and wonderful descriptions of Victorian England. The novel is in three parts, following the structure of novels from that era (which adds a historical layer to it). However, I just couldn’t stand Nancy (the main character).

During the first third of the novel, Nancy was completely in love with Kitty and I could barely get through the Kitty is so perfect, Kitty is so lovely, Kitty is so blah blah blah (insert too sugary sweet description here). And the plot for the first part could be summarized in half a page. The novel wouldn’t have been any poorer if that part had been much shorter (I could only stomach it in short intervals and had to take a lot of breaks from the book). Once we entered the second third, the plot picked up a little; it became darker and a bit more interesting. Nancy’s annoyingness diminished; although she was still selfish (used people) and an idiot. Nancy is the cause of so many of her own problems and she whines when things go wrong, people help her, and then she drops them the minute something or someone better comes along. She starts out the same way in the third third of the novel; however, she finally starts to make some changes. This last part is also where I finally got into the story. I adore Florence. I even wished the entire novel was about Florence and her wonderful, feminist self. And the ending ended up being pretty decent.

I know I criticized this book a lot, but really it is the character of Nancy that I found distasteful and annoying. The writing is well done, beautiful really. The plot became interesting in the second two thirds, and I love the Victorian era authenticity I felt when reading. However, it almost felt like I was reading three distinctly different novels than three parts of one. Waters wanted to show all the facets of Victorian life (theatre, upper class, rent boys, feminism, workers, etc.) and the place of lesbians within it but at times it seemed she stretched the plot too much to show us everything instead of making the settings fit the plot. It isn’t a brilliant book but Waters seems a promising writer and I’m willing to give her another chance since this was her first novel.