Thursday, 25 February 2016

Crimson Petal and the White Read-A-Long: Week One

I love this book. This may be (read: definitely is) best book we've ever read-a-longed. Admittedly, it has War & Peace and Moby Dick for competitors, but it's soooooo good.

I finished last week's reading really early and then I also finished this week's reading... by last Sunday.  I absolutely hated that I had a whole damn week to wait before I could read any more.
1)  We'll start simple.  How are you finding the book so far?
Oh god, I love it. I knew nothing about this book at all before I started. I didn't know it was about prostitues, I didn't know when it was set and I didn't know how beautifully it was written.
My favourite thing is the odd second person thing. Normally I'd hate that but it's so subtle. I didn't mark down any quotes because I essentially wanted to quote the entire book, but it says thing like 'our story follows Sugar, so don't bother following Caroline. It'll be warmer where Sugar's going anyway, so let's walk with her into the brightly-lit doorway.'
I mean, it's better written than my feeble attempt, but you get the idea. It's not like that 100% of the time or it would drive us bad, but it's just enough. 

2)  The language and tone of the writing is pretty brutal and unflinching.  Does that bother you?  Does it change how you feel about doling out recommendations?
Nah, it doesn't really bother me. I have a pretty gory day job.
Sometimes the word choice makes me cringe a little - not because it's vulgar, but because it doesn't really fit. 'Orifice,' for example. Nobody ever says that and I doubt they did in the 1870s either, much less three times in the same paragraph. Yuck.
I don't think it makes it less recommendable, although I would probably include a brief mention of it when I was telling them about the book.

3)  We've met both Sugar and William Rackham now.  First impressions?
I... don't like Sugar. No, I don't know why. I think she's well-written and very fleshed-out, so I don't dislike her in a literary way, I just feel like we wouldn't get on. 

Rackham is obviously an arse... but I don't hate him. I respect him for not sending Agnes to an asylum, especially when the Doctor is pressuring him to do so. You could argue that he didn't want the stain on his reputation, but lots of women got shut away in those days and he wasn't exactly a VIP at the time anyway.

4)  Agnes Rackham has been a bit of a fringe character in this first section but her treatment by her husband and doctor makes her quite the tragic figure.  What do you think about her mysterious 'illness'?
Yeah, I've read ahead, so I know what it is. 

I think I may hate that Doctor more than any character in the whole book. His undignified treatment of Agnes made me so ridiculously angry.

5)  Much though I'm really enjoying the book, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of a plot.  Any predictions about what's coming up?
I have no idea where this book is going. Like I said, I know nothing about it. My blurb just says that a prostitute becomes the mistress of a wealthy man, but that's already happened, so what now?
I reckon... Agnes dies. William wants to marry Sugar but she won't. Then maybe she kills him? Oh, I hope so. Except Agnes. Poor Agnes.
Charlotte, I love you for hosting!

1 comment:

  1. You're so right on the writing - it's incredible. Writing about the book without saying something cheesy like "it feels like you're actually in Victorian London" is going to be tricky.

    I like Sugar. I can't remember now why I liked her in the first 150 pages but I've definitely always liked her. And I feel so sorry for her. The Doctor is appalling though, I agree with you on that. His physical 'examination' was not pleasant to read about and he generally just sounds like a horrible creature.

    Reading this is just making me so happy! :)


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