NOW A MAJOR BBC DRAMA starring Romola Garai, Chris O'Dowd, Gillian Anderson, Richard E. Grant, Shirley Henderson, and Mark Gatiss.
'Watch your step. Keep your wits about you; you will need them....' So begins this irresistible voyage into the dark side of Victorian London. Amongst an unforgettable cast of low-lifes, physicians, businessmen, and prostitutes, meet our heroine Sugar, a young woman trying to drag herself up from the gutter any way she can. Be prepared for a mesmerising tale of passion, intrigue, ambition, and revenge.
©2011 Michel Faber (P)2011 W.F. Howes Ltd
I loved this book SO much and when I read the first review that was written for this book I felt so sorry for waiting to give my opinion. I think that anyone that enjoyed watching "The Duchess of Duke Street" and/or "Upstairs, Downstairs" on PBS would probably like this story as well or more. This is not a book for the squeamish so if you cannot tolerate a certain amount of sex and unpleasantness, don't bother. I was able to keep track of the many characters quite easily, partly because the narrator is so easily understood. Once I started listening, I was so hooked! I finished this almost 42 hour book in just 10 days and wished it was longer. The ending was excellent. It was a bargain for just one credit. (Editor NOT needed, thank you very much).
I loved this book - every word of it, from the very unusual start.....right down to the last words BEFORE the ending. You quickly become immersed in the hidden Victorian world of sex for sale and the sinners who consider themselves perfect gentlemen in every way - with no thought or understanding of the women they use and abuse, whether whores, wives or servants.
All the realistic and captivating characters are totally believable, and the narrator clearly defines them. The plot has twists and turns that are, for the most part, not too surprising. But the characters, and the story, carry you forward, and keep you caring about the characters - with hope that the story will be true to their personalities and the expected choices that they should make.
You quickly find yourself cheering for an extraordinary 'fallen woman' and hoping that she will overcome all the odds against her. Then wonderful things begin to happen to this deserving woman, and you want this to be the best 'Cinderella story' of all time. But I don't want to spoil the ending for you.
Under ordinary circumstances, I would have rated this book at 5 stars. But, the sudden, unexpected ending really ticked me off - and I down-graded the rating by 1 star. This is ?going to be? or is ?now? a BBC series - so I must assume that the reason for the abrupt ending for the book is because a SECOND season (and book) will soon be on our reading horizon. Curses on the ending of a series that leaves you hanging! But it's nice to know that you will eventually 'know all', when the next season begins. I am looking forward to seeing the TV series - and certainly looking forward to another book that continues with the life of Sugar - a very unusual lady of the night.
Remind me again, where did I leave my ipod?
What a brilliant book. I hung on every word of this amazing tale. I thought I would be less than pleased with the ending, but it felt just right to me. I'm so glad I took a chance on it. It will be one of my favorite "re-reads" in years to come. Michel Faber is a genius. And Jill Tanner does him proud!
A wonderful book...but the ending is so unsatisfactory... In fact, there is no ending at all - there is an abrupt stop - it actually made me mad and wanting. Listen anyway - it is a masterpiece.
Avid reader and audiobook listener; I love mysteries, thrillers, historical fiction, and Brit-crime novels.
While I freely admit, I am not finished with this book......not even finished with part one of the five, I have to say I LOVE IT. I wanted to counter the few less than stellar reviews given by previous reviewers. Yes, it is rather long-winded and probably could have used a more scissor-happy editor; however, this is one thing I love about the book. The author is indeed verbose, using many words to describe people, places, and things, but this has always helped me to more easily visualize settings and characters. I detest authors who are skimpy with descriptors (I guess I just don't have a vivid enough imagination). This author is excellent and I will be looking forward to more from her.
Believe it or not, the characters come across as likeable (more or less), even when they are obviously toffee-nosed snobs. The book is definitely adult. If you are squeamish about sex, coarse language, and the seedier side of life, do give it a miss. BUT if you, as well as I, enjoy reading about lives lived completely differently than your own, buy it. You just might find yourself being transported to a different place and time. And you WON'T want to leave. I actually can't wait to finish this review so I can turn on my iPod again to be sent back to London, circa 1874. I'm anxious to see how Sugar is getting along; how William will manage his serious "issues", and to meet the other interesting and complex characters created by Ms. Faber.
Apparently this book has been made into a major BBC drama now starring Romola Garai, a terrific, young, English actress. I'd love to see it sometime. It'd be interesting to see how they "clean it up" for airing on public television.
to end it? I was so sucked in - could not stop listening - could not wait to see how everything would work out. Then it literally just ended. I thought it was a mistake and listened to the last few minutes 3 times to make sure I didn't miss anything. It's like the author wrote this great story and couldn't decide how to end it, so he just ended it. Urggggg!
I usually try to avoid writing bad reviews, but this one just really bugged me enough to say something. It's such good writing, such interesting flawed characters, to get so vested...how could he not tell us what happened to everyone? I'm so disappointed. :(
Say something about yourself!
What a fantastic story. From the first word to the last! A contemporary Dickens, Mr. Faber has written a cast of characters to warm the heart and treat the eye in 1860's London. With just enough sex to shock a Victorian, he leads us on a journey of vice and redemption. Even the superb narrator adds humanity with occasional growls of tummy!
I enjoyed this book until it came to an abrupt end with no resolution to the story. To describe it in the terms of a three act play, it has an overly-long second act and stops just as the third act is warming up - like a student running out of "blue-book" space while answering an essay question.
If you don't mind drawing your own conclusions, the rest of the book is well written and very well narrated.
The author describes Victorian London and Victorian life with great detail that must have taken a great deal of research. The way people dressed and lived, even the lives of prostitutes and businessmen, are described in eloquent language that engaged me. The story was interesting and unique, and I listened to the entire thing. My main problem is my own wish for one character to really like. Sugar, the main character, was forced into prostitution as a child by her mother, and she wants to be a writer. Her stories' main theme was revenge on men--she killed them off in gruesome ways. She falls in love, or allows herself to be loved, by a wealthy man whose wife is mentally ill and who completely neglects his young child by that wife. He removes Sugar from the brothel and installs her as his concubine because he wants her all to himself. The main character becomes more and more entwined in his life, hoping to somehow raise herself into a higher class. In the end, he is no better than any of the other men in her life, and she then manages to get great revenge on him and flee, but the story ends there and we don't know what really becomes of her.. By this time she has become someone that I could not root for, and all of the other characters are twisted and revolting as well. I think the author tries to say that all women were demeaned by that society, and perhaps all men were as well. There seems to be a fad among modern authors now to revisit Victorian England and explore its facets that were not discussed during that era--perversions, homosexuality, moral dishonesty, child exploitation, degradation of women. I think that is fine, but I am still so old-fashioned that I want one character that I admire and applaud, and I didn't find that character. Perhaps you will enjoy this story more than I did.
For the first time since I started to listen to audiobooks I have finally found one that put me to sleep almost immediately.
There is very little substance to sink your ears into and I have barely even got through the beginning of the second file and I am ready to delete it. The characters are ever changing and honestly not terribly interesting either. Just as you feel you can relate the story changes entirely. I really don't like the way you as the reader are spoken to directly either and told what to do when.
Just the way that it was narrated irritated me - Jill has a way of pausing after each sentence for a period far too long to keep the flow of the words at a comfortable pace.
"One of the best books I have ever read."
Having never seen the television series I was curious to see what this book was like. Wow - it was gripping from the start - an earthy story written in gritty prose which reflected well the characters in the story. These characters will stay in my mind for ever - I will definitely read this again.
It is a very rare occurrence for me to watch an adaptation of a book without having read it beforehand - but that was the case with this. However, I hated the television adaptation and watched only the first 15 mins. I was stunned that the book was so lauded and so thought I'd give the audiobook a try. Oh wow!! Listened to it through over three evenings - late into the night!!!
5 stars for the recording
5 stars for the book itself
I loved it - give it a try especially if you didn't like the TV adaptation!!
"Fantastic Reader, Crap book"
The reader was wonderful and really saved the book for me. The book, while in principle seems good, a mixture of Dickens and Woolf, actually turned out bad. There was no ending, or at least not a satisfactory one. I feel like if I listened that long to that many words something should have been resolved, but nothing was. At least the reader was good, so I didn't feel like I wasted too much time.
I loved this book. It is rich in texture, full of heady descriptions of the stark reality of life in Victorian London. As you start to listen you are shocked by the graphic detail of some of the images, until you are drawn in. It is also beautifully read by Jill Tanner, who adds something quite special to the work. Yes, I daresay that the BBC adaptation told the story of Sugar in a shorter version, but it could not have captured the richness of the language of the written work. The ending was a little unsatisfactory, but even so I would recommend this book, and this particular spoken edition, to anyone with a taste for the Dickensian, without the sweetness that Dickens has been known to add.
I saw the dramatisation of this book on television and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to read the book. And I have not been disappointed - the television adaptation was very good, but the book is so much better! The narration is perfect, and once I started listening I just couldn't put it down. I found myself completely immersed in the story, the characters and their thoughts. It's a wonderful book and so well narrated - in other words, a perfect listen!
"A prime candidate for being abridged"
As a novel this book is OK and the reader is very good. It gives a real insight into the life of the impoverished of London..... for a small fraction of the eternity that it feels you expend on listening to it. After that, it really is just like every other tedious victorian novel.
The story is OK but it is telling that the BBC managed to get it down to a 4 episode mini series. And the naughty bits? The story just proves that even the best champagne will get boring if there's nothing else on offer.
"Stay with it..."
An extraordinary amount of research has gone into creating this book about Victorian morality and fascinating it is too. It took me a while to get into it, long descriptions are often off putting, but it rewarded my patience and the 40 odd hours flew by. The choice of narrator is perfect and the story she tells is gripping and illuminating. I loved it. More please...a sequel perhaps...
"social history with a difference"
I first read this some years ago in hardback and was gripped.However,in the intervening years I have forgotten so much of the detail that I decided to try the audio book.Once again I was unable to 'put it down'. This story of a young prostitute ,Sugar,and those seedy or highborn persons with whom she comes into contact really conveys the dirt,desperation and class-ridden world of Victorian London. Sugar,who declares that 'there is nothing I won't do' to please her clients,grabs the opportunity to improve her degrading life,but is still at the beck and call of a man. The final outcome for Sugar and several other characters we have heard much about is uncertain,but this works well.
There are many references to sexual activity in the book,and a fair number of 'four letter words'.I did not find this gratuitous but some may.
An excellent book and very well narrated.
"Should Contain Warning of Vulgarity"
This book would not suffer from a bit of generous editing. The vulgarity becomes boring.
I finished this book a few days ago and, like others, at first felt cheated by the end, now I have had time to think about it I can see the ending does work but would love to think there is another book planned continuing Sugar's life. Brilliantly written and narrated couldn't put it down (and was listening when I should have been doing other things). Highly recommended.
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