I’m ashamed to say that Tipping the Velvet is my first Sarah Waters read, but pleased to report that it didn’t disappoint.
Taking place in Victorian England, Tipping the Velvetis a mix of the coming-of-age and coming-out genres; its themes (if I am to reduce a twist-filled tale to such banalities) include leaving home, self-acceptance, and not giving time to people who can’t accept you (and…
A question, in my experience, that women who fall in love with women constantly ask each other, and themselves.
Emma Donoghue, quoting and discussing Fingersmith by Sarah Waters in Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature (reviewed at The Lesbrary).
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit - I cannot stand Jeanette Winterson. As an author. I’m sure she’s AWESOME as a person and probably bakes cookies for her friends when they’re having a bad day and housesits and doesn’t ask for anything but instead BAKES MORE COOKIES for when you come home. But this book? Jeanette Winterson is the Queen of Vague Writing and General Subtextery. Meaning for this whole novel, I was going “Wait, is she 12? 18? Is she saying she likes ladies? OMG WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH THE NEIGHBOR ARE THEY HAVING SEX GOOD LORD I HOPE SHE ISN’T 12.”
Kissing the Witch - These are interwoven fairytales that’ve been kinda redone by Emma Donoghue, who is a badass at writing. I’m on my fourth book of hers and this one is STILL my favorite (the others I’ve read are Landing, which is contemporary and not amazing but not bad, Slammerkin, which I super-enjoyed but is not gay and not as good as this [not because of the not-gay thing], and I’ve started Room, which I am WAY not into).
Tipping the Velvet - This is like the Holy Grail of lesbian novels. Sarah Waters is SUPER-smart AND writes about Victorian England. She said the purpose behind TtV was to show different types of Victorian lesbian relationships, and man, she succeeds. Because the heroine, Nan, is all OVER the place and probably gets like 50 diseases, but they are tastefully not mentioned. And Flo is in it, and Flo is awesome. Kitty is also awesome, but more in a bitchy way that destroys your life.
Fingersmith - (feel free to snicker at the title) This is pretty heavily influenced by The Woman in White, so I’m glad I read it before WiW, because otherwise I might’ve been all indignant instead of “OMG SO MANY TWISTS.” It’s got an insane asylum featured, and who DOESN’T love Victorian novels about insane asylums?
And so I wasn’t so very surprised to spot Grayson Perry sitting quietly at the back of the lecture hall on Monday night, listening to Sarah Waters read from and talk about her most recent novel, The Little Stranger. Sarah Waters is one of my favourite writers, not least for her ability to conjure a whole world and invite us in to be entertained.
Both these artists are deservedly popular; both have made mincemeat of the trend for minimalism, restraint, cynicism and world-weariness. Like Grayson Perry, Sarah Waters was funny, engaging and honest, answering questions and staying behind to sign books after the talk, despite the efforts of the organiser to whisk her away.
Blake talked of artists ‘seeing a world in a grain of sand’. Some artists seem to have misinterpreted that as meaning they can just show us the grain of sand, and we’ll get the reference. Grayson Perry and Sarah Waters take the grain of sand and paint the world on it. Long may they, and their art, prosper.