This lush tale fearlessly and feverishly exposes the political, social and sexual subversions of Victorian-era gender-benders: sapphists, libertines and passing women... Waters is a masterful storyteller... Nancy's search for love and identity is a raucous, passionate adventure and a rare, thrilling read
Intelligent, witty and stylish, the novel re-imagines a lost lesbian history through vivid sensual detail, evocative period slang (the title is a sexual euphemism) and a satisfyingly complex plot
Richly entertaining... Waters's debut offers terrific entertainment: swiftly paced, crammed with colorful depictions of 1890s London and vividly sketched Dickensian supporting characters, pulsating with highly charged (and explicitly presented) erotic heat
Wonderful... a sensual experience that leaves the reader marveling at the author's craftsmanship, idiosyncrasy, and sheer effort
Compelling... readers of all sexes and orientations should identify with this gutsy hero as she learns who she is and how to love
Glorious... an exceptional debut
INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY
This could be the most important debut of its kind since that of Jeanette Winterson
Erotic and absorbing... Written with startling power
An unstoppable read, a sexy and picaresque romp through the lesbian and queer demi-monde of the roaring Nineties. Imagine Jeanette Winterson on a good day collaborating with Judith Butler to pen a Sapphic Moll Flanders. It's gorgeous
The heroine of Sarah Waters's audacious first novel knows her destiny, and seems content with it. Her place is in her father's seaside restaurant, shucking shellfish and stirring soup, singing all the while. "Although I didn't believe the story told to me by Mother--that they had found me as a baby in an oyster-shell, and a greedy customer had almost eaten me for lunch--for 18 years I never doubted my own oysterish sympathies, never looked beyond my father's kitchen for occupation, or for love." At night Nancy Astley often ventures to the nearby music hall, not that she has illusions of being more than an audience member. But the moment she spies a new male impersonator--still something of a curiosity in England circa 1888--her years of innocence come to an end and a life of transformations begins.
Kerry Fried, Amazon.com
Waters is an extremely confident writer, combining precise, sensuous descriptions with irony and wit. This is a lively, gutsy, highly readable debut
Delectable... written in roguishly lilting prose filled with the sights, sounds and stenches of London street life
Club isn't outré enough for her. Kitting Nancy out in full, elegant drag, she dares the front desk to turn them away. "We are here," she mocks, "for the sake of the irregular."
An extremely confident writer, combining precise, sensuous descriptions with irony and wit in a skilled, multi-layered pastiche of the lesbian historical romance