Are There Lesbians? Yes
In Victorian England, oyster-girl Nan’s life is changed forever when she makes the terrible mistake of taking a night off and going to the theatre. there she falls in love with one of the performers – Kitty Butler, a girl dressed as a boy. This goes about as well as one might expect and Nan follows her to London to begin a whirlwind adventure that takes her through most of the trifle layers that make up London’s colourful society.
I love this book. I cannot believe it took me this long to get around to reading it. It has Victorian Lesbians for goodness sake. That’s like my whole aesthetic! Tipping the Velvet is one of those books that, were time travel to be invented, I would go back to the time I was first told about it and throw a copy at myself while screaming “JUST READ IT” like a crazy person. So perhaps it’s a good thing there’s no time travel yet…
The first thing you need to know about Tipping the Velvet is that none of the lesbians die – which was a real worry for me for a while, but it’s all good. The second is that it ends happily. Because lack of death and happy endings aren’t mutually exclusive! So now you have that security, you can now begin the emotional trauma of reading Tipping the Velvet.
It’s a hard book to talk about without mentioning all the characters outright but I definitely don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who decide to read it so I’m going to be as general as possible. The majority of characters are female, and gay at that so, like all media that therefore doesn’t have to worry so much about representation it is allowed to have women who are weak or selfish or care too much for the opinion of men, without saying that this is something that all women do. Hell, even the main character, Nan, goes through several series’ of emotional changes and, while I sometimes questioned her judgement she would ultimately restore my faith in her. The characters in Tipping the Velvet are not nice, but they are not necessarily evil, and even those you don’t like aren’t necessarily bad people. Mostly they are simply human, with all the faults that brings. Having said that I still actively hate several of them and want to fight them for hurting Nan.
Reading between Uni readings as I was, Tipping the Velvet made a great break from pretentious historical articles – the writing is relatively simple and easy to read and it’s just plain fun. So basically if you are a person who like a fun you will like this book. I’ve already got a few more of Susan Waters’ books lined up to read next, so don’t be surprised if you see her name again in the weeks to come! I’ll also be checking out the TV series at some point as it look gorgeous. If this rampant following of works doesn’t tell you how much I love this book, then I don’t know what will!