Nan King is an oyster girl in a small seaside town who dreams of a better life. Her life drastically changes when she falls in love with a Masher named Kitty Butler. When Kitty is called back to London for a new show, Nan decides to join her and work as her dresser. Their love is forbidden and they keep it a secret but it’s inevitably doomed. When the relationship ends, Nan has to face London on her own, this is when her adventure of sexual discovery truly begins.
I was told by my sister in law that I don’t review enough lesbian romances, but to be honest I think this is the only one I’ve read (and possibly not a romance). I read Tipping the Velvet a few years ago and still remember it fondly, it was unlike anything I’ve ever read before. As a literary explorer this is always something I look for. The relationship between Nan and Kitty was doomed from the start and was an interesting way for the reader and Nan to discover her sexuality. Though this was not the best first love, it got her to discover who she was as a lesbian. There is a sense of self-discovery throughout this book, she doesn’t always make good choices, in fact most of them were bad but this is part of the journey.
I really liked Nan as a character and seeing Kitty through her eyes, I also liked Kitty. But the heart break was almost like a heart break for me too. I don’t often get so emotionally invested in a book so it was interesting that I was so invested with this one. While this book was very predictable it was still a great read and I was surprised just how much I enjoyed it.
This is Sarah Waters’ debut novel and I would highly recommend it; its historical fiction like you have never read it before. The first part of the book was so obvious but there may be some surprises in the second half to keep you reading. There are some explicit sex scenes in this book but if you are not put off by them, this is well worth your time.