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Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781860495243

Price: £9.99

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Piercing the shadows of the naked stage was a single shaft of rosy limelight, and in the centre of this was a girl: the most marvellous girl – I knew it at once! – that I had ever seen.

‘Erotic and absorbing . . . Written with startling power’ New York Times Book Review

Nan King, an oyster girl, is captivated by the music hall phenomenon Kitty Butler, a male impersonator extraordinaire treading the boards in Canterbury. Through a friend at the box office, Nan manages to visit all her shows and finally meet her heroine. Soon after, she becomes Kitty’s dresser and the two head for the bright lights of Leicester Square where they begin a glittering career as music-hall stars in an all-singing and dancing double act. At the same time, behind closed doors, they admit their attraction to each other and their affair begins.

Reviews

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 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 18 years I never doubted my own oysterish sympathies, never looked 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 tantalising, 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 bu
An unstoppable read, a sexy and picaresque romp through the lesbian and queer demi-monde of the roaring Nineties. Imagine Jeanette Winterson on a good day collaborating with Judith Butler to pen a Sapphic Moll Flanders. It's gorgeous
Independent on Sunday
This could be the most important debut of its kind since that of Jeanette Winterson
Daily Telegraph
This lush tale fearlessly and feverishly exposes the political, social and sexual subversions of Victorian-era gender-benders: sapphists, libertines and passing women... Waters is a masterful storyteller... Nancy's search for love and identity is a raucous, passionate adventure and a rare, thrilling read
Publishers Weekly
Richly entertaining... Waters's debut offers terrific entertainment: swiftly paced, crammed with colorful depictions of 1890s London and vividly sketched Dickensian supporting characters, pulsating with highly charged (and explicitly presented) erotic heat
Kirkus
Kerry Fried, Amazon.com
'An unstoppable read, a sexy and picaresque romp through the lesbian and queer demi-monde of the roaring Nineties. Imagine Jeanette Winterson on a good day, collaborating with Judith Butler to pen a sapphic Moll Flanders. Could this be a new genre? The
Erotic and absorbing... Written with startling power
New York Times Book Review
Compelling... readers of all sexes and orientations should identify with this gutsy hero as she learns who she is and how to love
Newsday
INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY
'She is an extremely confident writer, combining precise, sensuous descriptions with irony and wit. Thisis a lively, gutsy, highly readable debut, probably destined to become a lesbian classic’
Intelligent, witty and stylish, the novel re-imagines a lost lesbian history through vivid sensual detail, evocative period slang (the title is a sexual euphemism) and a satisfyingly complex plot
Independent
Wonderful... a sensual experience that leaves the reader marveling at the author's craftsmanship, idiosyncrasy, and sheer effort
San Francisco Chronicle
An extremely confident writer, combining precise, sensuous descriptions with irony and wit in a skilled, multi-layered pastiche of the lesbian historical romance
Christina Patterson, Observer
Glorious... an exceptional debut
Boston Globe
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
Delectable... written in roguishly lilting prose filled with the sights, sounds and stenches of London street life
Seattle Times
Waters is an extremely confident writer, combining precise, sensuous descriptions with irony and wit. This is a lively, gutsy, highly readable debut
Observer