Your audiobook is waiting…

Tipping the Velvet

Narrated by: Juanita McMahon
Length: 19 hrs and 5 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (771 ratings)
Regular price: $38.49
$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

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.

©1998 Sarah Waters (P)2003 W.F. Howes

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    510
  • 4 Stars
    154
  • 3 Stars
    77
  • 2 Stars
    16
  • 1 Stars
    14

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    560
  • 4 Stars
    102
  • 3 Stars
    27
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    6

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    442
  • 4 Stars
    156
  • 3 Stars
    68
  • 2 Stars
    22
  • 1 Stars
    11
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • TENA
  • PITTSBURGH, PA, United States
  • 01-25-15

Did not disappoint!

If I could give 4.5 stars I would have...

The last dozen or so books I have read have all been lovely books that left me totally disappointed with the ending (either just woefully uneventful or not really an ending at all). Tipping the Velvet, thankfully, left me feeling a lot of things but disappointment was not one of them.

I have typically really struggled finishing time-period novels. They are just not my thing. More often than not, I can feel the slight dissonance between when the book was written and the time period when it was set--whether it's a language use issue, historical [in]accuracy issue, or something I can't put my finger on that just doesn't read as 'true', I typically have had a hard time finishing them. I don't know if me being pretty unfamiliar with the language use (and life in general) in 1890's England made me more accepting of this time-period novel, but I absolutely loved the setting. I cannot recall a single moment in which I felt like there was a disconnect--or a moment where I was very clearly aware that the book was written just a few years ago.

Author, Sarah Waters creates such vivid descriptions of the world in which Nancy lives that, as cliche as it sounds, I was really transported in time. For some people, I'm sure this could become a bit of a slow read because of the time spent describing things, but for me, it totally enhanced the story. It almost added a level of authenticity for me because I am not familiar with Victorian era England, the descriptions helped me build a picture that I did not already have in my head.

When I start feeling frustrated, angry, sad, and hopeful while reading, I know it's a good book and this one had me all over the map. There were moments of wanting to yell at Nan to do (or not do) something and moments of wanting so badly for things to go right for her. I found myself wishing I could read faster while still enjoying the richness of the story just so I could find out what happens. To this point, I will likely re-read this book since I know there were moments where the wanting of the story made me rush through while missing some of the linguistic artistry.

As to the story itself, there were certainly lots of twists and turns with highs and lows (and basement lows). It kept me guessing as to what was coming next (even if there was a rhythm to the madness)... just when I thought it was never going to get better for nan, something happened to pull her up from the depths. While it is certainly a lesbian love story with quite a bit of lesbian sex, it is also absolutely a love story and a coming of age story that I think many people can relate to. Regardless of sexuality, what person hasn't had their heart broken by someone they loved (particularly as a teenager/young adult) or found themselves in relationships that were initially enjoyable but were never made for the 'long term'.

35 of 36 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I loved this book.

Any additional comments?

Yes, I loved this Audible edition. BUT as with most of Sarah Waters books, the subject matter is very difficult and at times very hard to stomach. The treatment of "Queer" women in 1890 in London is not pretty. Yes, it is a love story and the reader sees backstage at music halls, but the life of women who don't fit society's mold is very hard. I MUST add that I love the length of all of Sarah Waters books. Thank You for giving us time to know the characters in depth.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent story brilliantly told

I wasn't sure initially, after listening to the audio sample, if I would like the narrator, but she grew on me quickly and I was enjoying her performance before the end of the first chapter. Now having finished the book I wouldn't change the narrator for anything. The story is very well written and may keep you guessing. I was quite satisfied with the ending.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Stepping out of my comfort zone

I tend to read fantasy, and some sci fi. This is very limiting so I decided to step out of my comfort zone and based on some quick searching and some reviews I settled on this one.

The performance is very good, voices are distinct and memorable. I never felt pulled out of the story because of the performance.

The story itself follows Nan King, who we meet as a young adult still living at home and we watch her adventures in becoming a woman with a mind of her own. The big take away in this is the dance with love she has over the years. The struggles of gaining and losing, and using and taking, of herself and others. It is not a bad tale. However it ends rather weakly and I can't help but feel there was something bigger to have been gained through all the trials and gains and losses.

I would recommend this as an easy light read for someone that doesn't want to have to dig too deeply and that would enjoy a little bit of bedroom with their trials and tribulations tale.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Journey of Self Discovery

If you could sum up Tipping the Velvet in three words, what would they be?

Outrageous Self Discovery

What other book might you compare Tipping the Velvet to and why?

It is difficult to think of a decent comparison as Waters combined elements of historical fiction, epic self discovery, and audacious lesbian romance that I have not seen combined. It is like Emma Donoghue's Life Mask combined with modern brash romantic affairs.

Which character – as performed by Juanita McMahon – was your favorite?

Nan Astley (the main character).

Who was the most memorable character of Tipping the Velvet and why?

Nan Astley is the main character of this story. I seemed to share a love/hate relationship with her. There were moments that made me want to cheer, and others that made me want to wring her neck. She was by no means perfect which made her character all the more believable despite the outrageous situations in which she often found herself.

Any additional comments?

Overall I really enjoyed this book. I am a fan of Sarah Waters in general, but find this is one of my favorites. The historical flare of the stage mixed with coming of age/self discovery and the modern style romance made this book both fantastical and believable.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing narration & fantastic story

Read the story ages ago and love the film, so I was interested in hearing it read by a professional. The narrator is absolutely perfect for this book. She does different voices for each character across a range of accents and genders. It's absolutely astonishing how she was able to bring the book to life. I liked her narration so much, I bought the other Sarah Waters novels she narrates. If you had read it and seen the film, I'd still recommend the audio version to you as well.

The only disappointment was that it had to end.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kelly
  • Colorado Springs
  • 06-26-18

Creative, Unique and Masterfully written.

I read this wonderful book (from the #1001books list) as part of Pride month 2018, and I am so glad that I did. Ms Waters' writing is lovely, rich, and descriptive. I was enchanted by her use of our language, and even when the story failed to surprise me she deftly kept me interested by her ability to write. I liked the protagonist and believed her journey.

The book's themes are unique: sexuality, identity, and gender roles. And also quite common in literature: passion, redemption, violence and love. It was wonderful to read a book that explored homosexuality in such a real and open way. And setting such a modern story in the Victorian era made it even more intriguing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • hollie
  • San Francisco, CA USA
  • 11-01-17

just so so

struggled to finish, repetive and a bit boring. a very long book, too long.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Give It A Go

This is my third Sarah Waters book and the plot is fairly simple compared to the unfolding of ;Affinity; or even better, Fingersmith. The issues of class, exploration of cross dressing, power and identity within a work of period fiction is excellent. Waters evolves and keeps getting better. Fingersmith is, by far, her greater accomplishment.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Nan <3

What did you love best about Tipping the Velvet?

I love all of the historical details about lesbian life during this time period. I think the characters are all well developed, and the story is entertaining. I also liked that, though there is love, it's not a love story.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Nancy, of course! I read this book years ago when I was in college and fell in love with everything about it, but I was particularly in love with Nan who was unabashedly herself throughout the novel. I was afraid the book wouldn't live up to my memory of it this time around, but Nan managed to charm me yet again.

What does Juanita McMahon bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Every single character had a unique voice with Juanita McMahon's reading.

If you could rename Tipping the Velvet, what would you call it?

I wouldn't rename it at all. If you're in the know, the name is cheeky and screams "lesbian" without being crude.

Any additional comments?

This made me want to read more by this author.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful