Tipping the Velvet: A Novel

by Sarah Waters | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 1573227889 Global Overview for this book
Registered by needmorezoloft of Detroit, Texas USA on 7/24/2006
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7 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by needmorezoloft from Detroit, Texas USA on Monday, July 24, 2006
Pre-numbered label used for registration.

Journal Entry 2 by needmorezoloft from Detroit, Texas USA on Tuesday, July 25, 2006
The heroine of Sarah Waters's audacious first novel knows her destiny, and seems content with it. Her place is in her father's seaside restaurant, shucking shellfish and stirring soup, singing all the while. "Although I didn't long believe the story told to me by Mother--that they had found me as a baby in an oyster-shell, and a greedy customer had almost eaten me for lunch--for eighteen years I never doubted my own oysterish sympathies, never looked far beyond my father's kitchen for occupation, or for love." At night Nancy Astley often ventures to the nearby music hall, not that she has illusions of being more than an audience member. But the moment she spies a new male impersonator--still something of a curiosity in England circa 1888--her years of innocence come to an end and a life of transformations begins.
Tipping the Velvet, all 472 pages of it, is as saucy, as tantalizing, and as touching as the narrator's first encounter with the seductive but shame-ridden Miss Kitty Butler. And at first even Nancy's family is thrilled with her gender-bending pal, all but her sister, best friend, and bedmate, Alice, "her eyes shining cold and dull, with starlight and suspicion." Not to worry. Soon Nancy and Kitty are off to London, their relationship close though (alas for our heroine) sisterly. We know that bliss will come, and it does, in an exceptionally charged moment. A lesser author would have been content to stop her story there, but Waters has much more in mind for her buttonholing heroine, and for us. In brief, her Everywoman with a sexual difference goes from success onstage to heartbreak to a stint as a male prostitute (necessity truly is the mother of invention) to keeping house for a brother and sister in the Labour movement. And did I mention her long stint as a plaything in the pleasure palace of a rich Sapphist extraordinaire? Diana Lethaby is as cruel as she is carnal, and even the well-concealed Cavendish Ladies' Club isn't outré enough for her. Kitting Nancy out in full, elegant drag, she dares the front desk to turn them away. "We are here," she mocks, "for the sake of the irregular."

Only after some seven years of hard twists and sensual turns does Nancy conclude that a life of sensation is not enough. Still, Tipping the Velvet is so entertaining that readers will wish her sentimental--and hedonistic--education had taken twice as long. --Kerry Fried --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly
With a title that's a euphemism for cunnilingus and a plot awash with graphic lesbian sex, this lush tale fearlessly and feverishly exposes the political, social and sexual subversions of Victorian-era gender-benders: sapphists, libertines and passing women. Set in 1890s London against a backdrop of music halls and socialist demonstrations, Waters's debut (published to acclaim in England) is an engrossing story of a "tommish" woman battered and buoyed by the mores of the times. At 18, Nancy Astley is a fishmonger in coastal Whitstable, working with her sister and parents in the family oyster parlour. Smitten by male impersonator Kitty Butler, Nancy attends every show at the Canterbury Palace until the star notices her. A stunned Nancy finds herself Kitty's companion and dresser, and sexual tension keeps the pages turning as she becomes first Kitty's sweetheart, then her partner ("two lovely girls in trousers, instead of one!") in a wildly successful stage act. Kitty's shame over her sexual preference sends her into marriage to their manager, Walter Bliss, propelling devastated Nancy into a series of erotic excursions and a struggle for survival, first passing as a young man and hustling, then as wealthy widow Diana Lethaby's kept "tart," finally as the housekeeper for union organizer Florence Banner. Waters is a masterful storyteller, tantalizing the reader as Nancy endures melancholy squalor, betrayals, the lustful motives of swindling gay-girls and imperious ladies. The circumstances by which Nancy finally finds true love are unpredictable and moving. Amid the gentlemen trolling Piccadilly Circus for trysts with "renter" boys and the wealthy female guests of the Cavendish Clubs "Sapphists Only" parties, Nancy's search for love and identity is a raucous, passionate adventure, and a rare, thrilling read. Agent, Judith Murray.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Sending on as a RABCK to someone who I know has had this on their wishlist for a while.

Enjoy love!

Journal Entry 4 by CheriePie from Campbell, California USA on Saturday, February 24, 2007
Oh you silly girl! Thank you so much!! :* I just won this from AM in her RABCK contest too. But it looks like I updated my wishlist entry on the same day you sent this out so there was no way for you to know. I appreciate it nonetheless, and look forward to reading it. :)

Journal Entry 5 by CheriePie from Campbell, California USA on Saturday, March 8, 2008
From the publisher: This delicious, steamy debut novel chronicles the adventures of Nan King, who begins life as an oyster-girl in the provincial seaside town of Whitstable and whose fortunes are forever changed when she falls in love with a cross-dressing music-hall singer named Miss Kitty Butler. When Kitty is called up to London for an engagement on "Grease-Paint Avenue", Nan follows as her dresser and secret lover, and soon after, dons trousers and joins the act. In time, Kitty breaks her heart, and Nan assumes the guise of a butch roué to commence her own thrilling and varied sexual education—a sort of Moll Flanders in drag—finally finding friendship and true love in the most unexpected places.

At 472 pages, this book took me a bit longer to read than I'd anticipated. I can't say I didn't enjoy it however. Only time will tell if it "stays with me" the way many other great books do. I do enjoy this particular time period, late 19th Century, the Victorian era. Back in those times, for a woman to dress as a man, in "trousers" was quite against the accepted norms. I suspect that could be part of the reason that this book appealed to me in the first place, despite being outside of my usual genre. Because it tells the story of a girl who went against society's norms in every possible way. Hmm, kind of reminds me of someone else I know... *whistle*

Nan was a lesbian at a time when society wasn't sure how to handle such "atrocities". Being bisexual myself, I'm always intrigued reading about lesbian girls because they are so very different from bisexuals and travel in completely different social circles. Even back then, it seemed that lesbians usually only hung around with their own kind. Similar to how it's all depicted on the Showtime TV series The L Word, we don't really have these social groups intermingling. Lesbians have lesbian parties and 95% of the guests are lesbians; it's as if they're their own clique. Whereas if you're a woman who prefers both men and women equally for her sexual partners, but perhaps your established living arrangements or life partner happens to be male, then you're kind of outside the lesbian social circle. So that's a whole other aspect of this book that added to it's appeal for me. I don't think I'd read a contemporary lesbian romance novel and enjoy it nearly as much. Yet I truly enjoyed this one because of all the other stuff going on, the time period in which it took place, and simply because the author is a very good writer, and I truly felt I was able to "see" England through the eyes of a young lesbian woman in Victorian England. And that was quite a treat for the senses!

PS - LOVE the artwork on this cover!

This is now reserved for giz-angel, who won it in last March's Raiding Bookshelves Swap. Sorry it took so long!

Released 13 yrs ago (3/17/2008 UTC) at BookObsessed Swap in USPS, By Mail/Post/Courier -- Controlled Releases



This is off to Giz, along with a surprise RABCK for waiting for it so long. She won it in last March's Raiding Bookshelves Swap at BookObsessed.

Mailed 17-March-2008 via USPS Priority Mail International (Fixed Rate envelope).

Journal Entry 7 by Giz-angel from Greenwich, Greater London United Kingdom on Saturday, March 22, 2008
Thank you Cherie! Looking forward to this - and to the fabbo RABCK you sent too :) you are such a cool chickie xxx

Journal Entry 8 by Giz-angel from Greenwich, Greater London United Kingdom on Wednesday, June 11, 2008
loaning this to lovepurple1 while it sits on my TBR

Journal Entry 9 by lovepurple1 from London, Greater London United Kingdom on Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Lent to me by Giz-angel. Will read it next.

Journal Entry 10 by Giz-angel from Greenwich, Greater London United Kingdom on Sunday, June 29, 2008
And it's back with me and I've read it - YAY a book someone sent me that' I've read *phew*

Loved it, although it's oddly not my favourite Sarah Waters - I think so far my order goes:
Night Watch
Tipping the Velvet

I found the erotic tension in part 1 when Nancy meets Kitty was incredible, and I love the way Waters writes. I don't know, I think all her books are fab! Anyway I am going to find a new home for this v soon.

Journal Entry 11 by lovepurple1 from London, Greater London United Kingdom on Tuesday, July 1, 2008
This is my favourite Sarah Waters book - as usual, she tells the best stories in the best way.
Have given this back to Giz-angel.
Thank you for lending it to me ;)

Journal Entry 12 by morsecode from Woonsocket, Rhode Island USA on Friday, October 3, 2008
This book arrived safe and sound in Buffalo, NY.

Journal Entry 13 by morsecode from Woonsocket, Rhode Island USA on Sunday, October 12, 2008
That Sarah Waters is a fantastic writer is apparent from her debut novel. Tipping the Velvet paints a vivid portrait of Victorian London and those living on the perimeter of its society. At the outset, teenage protagonist Nancy Astley is a fishmonger in coastal Whitstable, working in the family oyster parlor, content with her life and her lot. Then, during a routine trip to the music hall, Nancy encounters the enigmatic Kitty Butler.

A male impersonator with her eyes on stardom, Kitty draws Nancy like a moth to a flame. Nancy goes to the hall night after night (spending all her savings on train fare) just to see Kitty's performance. When they finally meet, the two become fast friends and when Kitty departs for an engagement in London, Nancy joins her as her dresser. The two become lovers, Nancy joins the act and soon she has completely immersed herself in the life of celebrity and of a closeted "tom". When Kitty betrays her, Nancy feels she has lost everything. She takes to the streets and begins a whole other education.

Chronicling the most most tumultuous years of Nancy's life, Tipping the Velvet is the story of her road to discovery. While the story is compelling, parts of it that are downright depressing. There are times when both Nancy and the reader despair of things ever working out for her. Of course, in the end, it does in a most unexpected way.

RESERVED for historical fiction VBB

Journal Entry 14 by Supertalya on Monday, March 30, 2009
I received it today. Thanks morsie!

Journal Entry 15 by wingAnonymousFinderwing at Seoul, Kyonggi-do South Korea on Thursday, June 16, 2011
I am starting the book now!!! :)

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