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Publisher's Summary

NOW A MAJOR BBC DRAMA starring Romola Garai, Chris O'Dowd, Gillian Anderson, Richard E. Grant, Shirley Henderson, and Mark Gatiss.

'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.

©2011 Michel Faber (P)2011 W.F. Howes Ltd

What the critics say

"A big, sexy, bravura novel...wildly entertaining." (The New York Times)
"Irresistibly readable." (Ruth Rendell)
"Faber is the master of the spine-tingling page-turner, while creating a wholly believable universe." (Dazed and Confused)

What listeners say about The Crimson Petal and the White

Average Customer Ratings
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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Captivating writing style and wonderful narration

I loved this book. Often I use audio books to get to sleep but this one kept me awake with its wonderful descriptions of 19th century London, a fantastic cast of characters, and a plot that twisted and turned unexpectedly. I can honestly say I was intrigued for every minute of the 40+ hours of listening!

12 people found this helpful

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Fabulous Novel

I don’t know why I waited so long to read this book. I loved the tv series and would love to watch again. Well developed characters and great storyline. A classic in many ways. Very real and great depth.

1 person found this helpful

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Disappointing finish!

Loved it until the disappointing end!! Very good narration and great historical novel. Frustrating but good.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Half of a good story .

The last forty percent of this book has the makings of a very good historical novel.
However, the first half plus the narrator, sadly turn it into a romance novel.

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Captivating

An enticing novel that leaves you wanting more. The narration was pure perfection...allowing the reader to experience, almost in person, every scene, and every nuance as it occurred within the storyline. Each character and setting came to life so beautifully clear.
Truly enjoyable but, to me, a little disappointing in the end. The reader is left to make their own conclusions as to the final fate of the two main characters but perhaps this,in itself, makes the novel even more appealing to most.

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excellent tale

this this book was excellent from the very beginning to the end .The narrator is so easy to listen to and does such a great job .rhe story itself is intriguing and keeps you wanting to listen right to the very end.

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    1 out of 5 stars

It is like a long winded Dickens novel with Sex

Set in Victorian London this tale of Mr Rackham and the unfortunate females who pivot around him makes you feel like you are there in the time and place. The Narrator is excellent.

Do you like Dickens? In that case I think you will like it. The reviews I read online were incredible (the UK Guardian had six enthusiastic ones) but it was not for me, I really wished that I had stopped ealier, and no trudged through.

And the abrupt ending just annoyed me. It was like the author just had enough - I know I had.

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Excellent story

The 40plus hours just floated away! One of those rare books that I would consider listening to a second time. I must admit, though, that I am dissatisfied with the ending. I want to know that Sugar didn’t end up a kidnapper?

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A big time investment for no ending

The beginning is painfully boring, but the story does get better - quite good, but then ends abruptly with nothing resolved. I guess this is realistic, but not at all satisfying.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • anniepaints
  • 2011-06-16

Loved this Book!!

I loved this book SO much and when I read the first review that was written for this book I felt so sorry for waiting to give my opinion. I think that anyone that enjoyed watching "The Duchess of Duke Street" and/or "Upstairs, Downstairs" on PBS would probably like this story as well or more. This is not a book for the squeamish so if you cannot tolerate a certain amount of sex and unpleasantness, don't bother. I was able to keep track of the many characters quite easily, partly because the narrator is so easily understood. Once I started listening, I was so hooked! I finished this almost 42 hour book in just 10 days and wished it was longer. The ending was excellent. It was a bargain for just one credit. (Editor NOT needed, thank you very much).

65 people found this helpful

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  • MJ
  • 2011-10-24

Can't Put It Down

While I freely admit, I am not finished with this book......not even finished with part one of the five, I have to say I LOVE IT. I wanted to counter the few less than stellar reviews given by previous reviewers. Yes, it is rather long-winded and probably could have used a more scissor-happy editor; however, this is one thing I love about the book. The author is indeed verbose, using many words to describe people, places, and things, but this has always helped me to more easily visualize settings and characters. I detest authors who are skimpy with descriptors (I guess I just don't have a vivid enough imagination). This author is excellent and I will be looking forward to more from her.

Believe it or not, the characters come across as likeable (more or less), even when they are obviously toffee-nosed snobs. The book is definitely adult. If you are squeamish about sex, coarse language, and the seedier side of life, do give it a miss. BUT if you, as well as I, enjoy reading about lives lived completely differently than your own, buy it. You just might find yourself being transported to a different place and time. And you WON'T want to leave. I actually can't wait to finish this review so I can turn on my iPod again to be sent back to London, circa 1874. I'm anxious to see how Sugar is getting along; how William will manage his serious "issues", and to meet the other interesting and complex characters created by Ms. Faber.

Apparently this book has been made into a major BBC drama now starring Romola Garai, a terrific, young, English actress. I'd love to see it sometime. It'd be interesting to see how they "clean it up" for airing on public television.

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Linda Likes to Learn
  • 2011-07-27

MESMERIZING STORY, HISTORICAL AMBIENCE, BUT.....

I loved this book - every word of it, from the very unusual start.....right down to the last words BEFORE the ending. You quickly become immersed in the hidden Victorian world of sex for sale and the sinners who consider themselves perfect gentlemen in every way - with no thought or understanding of the women they use and abuse, whether whores, wives or servants.

All the realistic and captivating characters are totally believable, and the narrator clearly defines them. The plot has twists and turns that are, for the most part, not too surprising. But the characters, and the story, carry you forward, and keep you caring about the characters - with hope that the story will be true to their personalities and the expected choices that they should make.

You quickly find yourself cheering for an extraordinary 'fallen woman' and hoping that she will overcome all the odds against her. Then wonderful things begin to happen to this deserving woman, and you want this to be the best 'Cinderella story' of all time. But I don't want to spoil the ending for you.

Under ordinary circumstances, I would have rated this book at 5 stars. But, the sudden, unexpected ending really ticked me off - and I down-graded the rating by 1 star. This is ?going to be? or is ?now? a BBC series - so I must assume that the reason for the abrupt ending for the book is because a SECOND season (and book) will soon be on our reading horizon. Curses on the ending of a series that leaves you hanging! But it's nice to know that you will eventually 'know all', when the next season begins. I am looking forward to seeing the TV series - and certainly looking forward to another book that continues with the life of Sugar - a very unusual lady of the night.

24 people found this helpful

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  • Geoff Maddison
  • 2011-09-13

A Contemporary Dickens

What a fantastic story. From the first word to the last! A contemporary Dickens, Mr. Faber has written a cast of characters to warm the heart and treat the eye in 1860's London. With just enough sex to shock a Victorian, he leads us on a journey of vice and redemption. Even the superb narrator adds humanity with occasional growls of tummy!

11 people found this helpful

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  • nursebettyknitting
  • 2012-04-17

needs a sequel

A wonderful book...but the ending is so unsatisfactory... In fact, there is no ending at all - there is an abrupt stop - it actually made me mad and wanting. Listen anyway - it is a masterpiece.

16 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Laura B.
  • 2017-11-07

great story but the ending? seriously?

enjoyed the story and characters. couldn't wait to find out how it would all end and then..... nothing. it just cuts off without conclusion of any kind. I searched for a sequel thinking there must be one but, no. I want to know what happens!! very frustrated!

4 people found this helpful

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  • C. Newland
  • 2015-12-18

Great story, superb narration!

What about Jill Tanner’s performance did you like?

Others have commented on the compelling story and the wonderful characters, especially that of Sugar, so I want to comment on the performance. The voice with which this book was narrated was perfect. It had an edge to it that was bitter and even a little cruel, giving voice flawlessly to the overall atmosphere of this novel. When necessary, however Jill Tanner could sound sweet or lovely, especially with Sugar's or Agnes's lines. The narration significantly enhanced the enjoyment of this book. It is impossible to imagine this novel with a different one.

Any additional comments?

The book didn't end so much as stop but, having read two other of Michel Faber's novels, his was not surprising. The net effect is the recognition that life, and presumably the characters, continues. I wonder if The Soprano's got its idea for an ending from Faber.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Daisy 2
  • 2012-10-11

41 hours of my life, and he couldn't decide how...

Any additional comments?

to end it? I was so sucked in - could not stop listening - could not wait to see how everything would work out. Then it literally just ended. I thought it was a mistake and listened to the last few minutes 3 times to make sure I didn't miss anything. It's like the author wrote this great story and couldn't decide how to end it, so he just ended it. Urggggg!
I usually try to avoid writing bad reviews, but this one just really bugged me enough to say something. It's such good writing, such interesting flawed characters, to get so vested...how could he not tell us what happened to everyone? I'm so disappointed. :(

21 people found this helpful

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  • bluestategirl
  • 2011-12-15

Add my name to the list of devoted fans!

What a brilliant book. I hung on every word of this amazing tale. I thought I would be less than pleased with the ending, but it felt just right to me. I'm so glad I took a chance on it. It will be one of my favorite "re-reads" in years to come. Michel Faber is a genius. And Jill Tanner does him proud!

13 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 2019-07-10

So incredibly boring

boring. hard to follow what was going on with the story. reminded me of when someone is trying to make a point and they just never manage to get there

1 person found this helpful