by Sarah Waters
This delicious, steamy debut novel chronicles the adventures of Nan King, who begins life as an oyster girl in the provincial seaside town of Whitstable and whose fortunes are forever changed when she falls in love with a cross-dressing music-hall singer named Miss Kitty Butler.
When Kitty is called up to London for an engagement on “Grease Paint Avenue,” Nan follows as her dresser and secret lover, and, soon after, dons trousers herself and joins the act. In time, Kitty breaks her heart, and Nan assumes the guise of butch roue to commence her own thrilling and varied sexual education – a sort of Moll Flanders in drag – finally finding friendship and true love in the most unexpected places.
Drawing comparison to the work of Jeanette Winterson, Sarah Waters’ novel is a feast for the senses – an erotic, lushly detailed historical novel that bursts with life and dazzlingly casts the turn of the century in a different light.