The Crimson Petal and The White by Michel  Faber
(Canongate, 2002)

The Crimson Petal and The White

by Michel Faber

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.


This is an unputdownable book; there is no choice but to give in to this most unbelievably pleasurable of narrative rides. From Pointillism to broad brushstroke bravura, the prose seems to be on some benign, timed-release speed: its pace in unflagging, its onward rush irresistible. . . Faber's take on the 19th Century English novel is a heady and intoxicating mixture of affection, respect and scabrous resistance. ”
- The Times
A cracking read, a Victorian page-turner with a twenty-first-century consciousness. Wilkie Collins would be proud. ”
- Louise Welsh
Down-and-dirty tale of an upwardly mobile Victorian prostitute . . . a scintillating tour de force.”
- Sunday Telegraph
At 828 pages, it's the size of a piglet and twice as heavy. Even so, I find myself lugging it to and fro on the train because my need to know what happens next outweighs the beast. ”
- Rowan Pelling
When a book is this big it had better be good - this one is. Dive in. Enjoy! ”
- Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones
The novel that Dickens might have write had he been allowed to speak freely . . . Faber's writing is so dizzyingly accomplished that he is able to convince you that, just sometimes, the old stories really are the best ones. ”
- Kathryn Hughes, Guardian
A confection of melodrama, gothic horror, satire and sentimentalism. It is, in the wittiest, most irreverent way possible, teeming with the ghosts of literature past. ”
- Hephzibah Anderson, Observer
It is a long read but a rewarding one. It is also, unsurprisingly, a sexy one. Indeed, at times it seems that the real central characters are the readers, good voyeurs that we are.”
- Observer
Owes as much to John Fowles as it does to Charlotte Brontë. Which is to say that the book is both mind-bogglingly clever and page-turningly tempting. Don't miss it. ”
- Daily Telegraph
Bafta-shaped brilliance from Auntie's Ye Olden Filthe drawer. ”
- Guardian