Saturday, 14 December 2013

Tipping the Velvet

Image sourced from here
Ah this book. I have wanted to read this book for years and years, I finally thought about it at the right place at the right time (while in the bookshop instead of at home) and managed to pick myself up a copy. And over the last year of it sitting there, I've just  heard again and again how good a writer Sarah Waters is. So for an historical fiction challenge, I decided I should pick it up.

I watched the BBC miniseries of the book 10 years ago when I was much more naive. I had some friends who had taped it off tv and brought it around while I was housesitting. I turned down a date with Lexx (it was the first few weeks we started seeing each other) to sit at home with the girls and watch "a lesbian, Victorian, possibly bdsm, tv show". He offered to bring some wine and come along too (very selfless of him (piffle) but we had plenty though). But I had no idea what I was about to watch. Not so much bdsm, but I never knew the BBC made shows like that (far cry from The Bill for example). I've wanted to read the book ever since. Except the few times it came up that my Mum's friends loved it... that was a weird convo.

So with an history and a build up like that, it had to be good. And it was. It was mostly brilliant. I love historical fiction that you just engage with the characters and follow them unconditionally where they are going. I just abandoned a book as the language was so jarringly "I'm reminding you this is ye olde-y" it was horrible. Tipping the Velvet didn't do that at all. They used Victorian language but you didn't notice too much (a lot of the "quaint" words were still reasonably frequently used for me anyway), you just went with them on their journey.

Again, back to place. She is remarkable as well with this. yes, it helped I was walking some of these streets a few weeks before, but I was 130 years in the future. You could completely feel, smell, see the world or environment she was building. For me, this is so important in a book. I want characters I can believe, an interesting story and to feel like I am placed in that world. I know, I don't ask for much.

I did feel like the story started to drag a little once or twice, particularly in the last third of the book. It just needed a bit of editing. And I can't remember how different the ending was to the miniseries (to be fair we had probably drunk our 19 year old body weights in wine while we watched the whole 6 hours, so god knows if I remembered the ending the next day). But I liked the ending in the book. Who cares about the series, the book's what matters! That's what I'm meant to say, right?

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