#289 Tipping the Velvet

I’ve had a bit of a lag on my blog posts recently – I finished this a few weeks ago after powering through it in a few days. Ironically I think I put off starting this because of its size (470ish pages) but finally bit the bullet and lugged it on the train down to London with me – which ended up being the first train ride where I haven’t slept or gazed out of the window even a little bit – I didn’t mind having to carry it around all day and was actually looking forward to the journey back to keep reading – no exaggeration. The irony is that shortly after I watched “the End of the Tour”, the film about David Foster Wallace with Jason Segal and Jessie Eisenberg (which is pretty much the perfect film for me) and after only a tiny bit of internally arguing myself ordered Infinite Jest – which at 1076 pages will need some serious motivation to carry around and read anywhere out of the house (as a result I’m only 8 pages in).

Tipping the Velvet is the story of Nan, who at the start of the novel is 18 and finds herself infatuated with a performer at her local theatre – a “masher” aka a woman impersonating a man (I’ll be honest I never understood why people would pay to watch a woman dress up as a man and sing songs but I suppose these were the Victorian times and I’m not really a musical or theatre fan to begin with). After visiting the theatre time and time again to watch Kitty perform, Nan finally meets and befriends her new idol, eventually moving with her to London as her dresser. What follows is an illicit and bittersweet lesbian relationship – bittersweet by its secrecy, and by Kitty’s denial of her own persuasions. Without wanting to give too much away, the rest of the novel follow’s Nan’s adventures in the city, where happily she is able to accept herself.

I honestly didn’t expect this book to be as good as it was – it’s really well written and engaging and the plot is captivating and unpredictable. I would say it’s quite a light-hearted read because I enjoyed it all the way through but I suppose it does tackle some more serious issues and definitely doesn’t shy away from things.

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