The Crimson Petal and the White

The Crimson Petal and the White's protagonist is Sugar, a self-educated prostitute and would-be novelist who seeks to move up in the rigid class system of 1870s London.  She soon finds herself the favorite of William Rackham, a successful businessman in the perfume industry.  Filled with fascinating characters and insight into the seedier parts of Victorian society, this novel is fulfilling, maddening, and thick enough to double as a doorstop.

“Sugar understood the permanence of being Sugar or Lotty or Lucy or whoever you might be, trapped on a square of card to be shown at will to strangers.  Whatever violations she routinely submits to in the privacy of bedroom, they vanish the moment they're over, half-forgotten with the drying of sweat.  But to be chemically fixed in time and passed hand to hand forever: that is a nakedness which can never be clothed again.”

Michel Faber was born in The Hague, Netherlands and spent his childhood in Australia.  He has published more than a dozen works; his most recent is The Book of Strange New Things.  He currently lives in Scotland.

Published:  2002
Length:  835 pages
Set in:  London, England