“Watch your step. Keep your wits about you; you will need them. This city I am bringing you to is vast and intricate, and you have not been here before. You may imagine, from other stories you’ve read, that you know it well, but those stories flattered you, welcoming you as a friend, treating you as if you belonged. The truth is that you are an alien from another time and place altogether.”
What a brilliant opening to a book, aye?
After watching the adaptation on the BBC, I thought I would give the book a go as I had really enjoyed it (even though I have not managed to get around to watching the final episode yet!)
As I started reading, I certainly didn’t feel disappointed. The sights, smells and sheer griminess of Victorian London was brought to life in a delightfully matter-of-fact way.
The lives of the prostitutes were told in a very unglamorous way – and then we meet Sugar. Sugar is like the ultimate prostitute – she never says no to any request from a punter, and yet she is well-spoken, self-educated to an extremely high degree, and partakes in such shocking passtimes as reading – and writing her own novel.
William Rackham, heir to Rackham Perfumeries, husband to an elegant but rather mad wife, and father to a small and sombre daughter is drawn to Sugar by a passion he can’t ignore, and the book tells the story of their ever-changing relationship.
I absolutely loved this book – I loved the portrayal of the characters, I loved the wonderfully elaborate and vibrant descriptions of London – both the flamboyant ‘rich’ areas, and the grim backstreets. And then about 3/4 of the way through, it all started to get on my nerves.
I think to me, it started losing its momentum – it actually began being a chore to finish (although, buying it on Kindle, it took me a while to work out that is was 900 pages long!).
And, was I rewarded with a brilliant ending for my perseverance? No. I was not. In fact I felt like the book was completely unfinished – like Faber didn’t seem to know how to end it, so just stopped.
I hated the ending. And now I don’t even think I want to watch the final part of the series, just in case it ends the same way.