Tipping the Velvet, published in 1998, by Sarah Waters is a historical novel set in Victorian England during the 1890s. Waters, a Welsh author, has written several historical fiction books. Tipping the Velvet was her first novel and after reading it, I have to say bravo. Not many writers settle into their craft so easily.
The greatest strength of this novel is the descriptions. When I was reading this novel, I didn’t just read the words; I was immersed into Victorian England. When Nan wandered the streets of London, I was right next to her. Seeing, smelling, and hearing everything. When Nan met people, I felt like I was shaking their hands as well. The descriptions in this novel are comparable to Charles Dickens. I’m a fan of Dickens so this is quite the compliment coming from me. I’ve read many good books in the past couple of years. And I’ve said I’ve found many new writers that I will continue to read. Sarah Waters may top all of the authors I’ve read recently. Not only are her descriptions amazing, but her storytelling abilities astounded me. Nan’s life takes so many twists and turns and I never tired of them. At times I wondered if Waters had story ideas on a dartboard and when she wanted to switch things up she threw a dart and went with the new idea. This isn’t to say that the different subplots didn’t mesh well. They all did and I think Waters has the ability to make the reader believe almost anything. When I read the last page of this novel, I was sad. Not about the ending, but that it was over. I wanted to continue with the story.