I’m about halfway through reading Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White. So far: I’d say it’s a fascinating story set in mid-Victorian London. It’s a very entertaining, but somewhat improbable tale about a 19 year old whore and the self-absorbed (but rich) bloke she takes up with.
There’s a wealth of humour, colour and interesting characters sustaining the story; and of course the metropolis itself, larger than life. It helps a little knowing the geography – Becky and I wandered around a lot of the places mentioned (most of them are a lot cleaner now than they used to be) when we lived there a while back.
Sometimes though the author uses this weird narrative device where his voice suddenly appears out of nowhere, practically accusing the reader of voyeurism. Like here, in the middle of a long stream of thoughts of one of the main characters:
So there you have it: the thoughts (somewhat pruned of repetition) of William Rackham as he sits on his bench in St James Park. If you are bored beyond endurance, I can only offer my promise that there will be fucking in the very near future, not to mention madness, abduction and violent death.
So maybe reading is an act of voyeurism, and Faber’s trying to make some sort of point. Maybe I’m not paying enough attention to work out what it is. Maybe I can’t be bothered. Luckily the book stands up on its own without me having to figure this out.