Tipping the Velvet, Paperback
4 out of 5 (13 ratings)


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. A saucy, sensuous and multi-layered historical romance, Tipping the Velvet follows the glittering career of Nan King - oyster girl turned music-hall star turned rent boy turned East End 'tom'.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Historical fiction
  • ISBN: 9781860495243



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Showing 1 - 5 of 13 reviews.

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Review by

A well written pastiche of a Victorian novel, think Fanny Hill with cross dressing and moderately explicit lesbian sex. Nancy has a roller coaster life adventure through music hall fame, prostitution (as a rent boy), kept woman, destitution and finally domestic bliss (with another woman of course)The BBC dramatisation was very close to the story.Excellent read.

Review by

A well-researched but mediocre novel. Nancy, the main character, feels less like a person than a tool for exploring the venues of turn-of-the-century lesbianism. As a closeted vaudeville performer, streetside prostitute, social activist and "kept woman," Nancy explores every corner of London's lesbian society in the span of a few short years. In order achieve that, she has to live through a soap operatic plot that fell short of real emotional resonance.

Review by

When I first read this book in 2002 I though to myself "Now when people ask me the question: what is your favourite novel of all time? I have an answer." Now I have other favourite books... but I still believe that few modern writers capture the readers attention and imagination like Sarah Waters does in this novel. You feel part of Nan's world and even when you finish the book you will see the world through her eyes as well as your own - as this book stays with you. It is unquestionably fantastic - it is about growth and the courage to be yourself.

Review by

A nice read, ever so slightly darker than the tv adaptation.

Review by

I watched the TV series when it was out originally - isn't that about 6 years or so ago now? - and then read this only recently. Commendations to the directors as they used the book so well. It didn't detract from my enjoyment as the book was perfectly well written and actually helped because I could hear/see the characters in my mind. I think this is a well-known plot and doesn't need much further saying about it. The sex is, well, very explicit and very raunchy but wonderfull written. The learning Nancy goes through is heartbreaking and yet character building for her. Leaving the loving bosom of one family to finally end up in the arms of another. Beautiful! Fabulous plot, excellent narrative and a true page turner.

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