This is a dream book, by that I mean that from page one I was hooked, well actually to be truthful, from the first paragraph. It had that magic that a talented author sprinkles across the pages breathing life into every word. Faber's writing is just that.
From the beginning I felt like a voyeur peeking into private corners and conversations. Very satisfying for anyone who has wanted to be a fly on the wall. The reader follows different individuals and peeks into their most vulnerable moments.
At the heart it is the depiction of relationships, norms, and opportunities shown through the lens of Victorian prostitution. Sugar is the main player and she is unusual in character, intellect and beauty. Her life changes in an extreme way shortly after meeting William Rackham, the heir to a perfume dynasty. Up to that point, Sugar is a lady for hire in her mother's brothel. There is so much more to this book, but I don't want to give away any surprises.
Although we get small glimpses into how Sugar came to be, I wanted more information. I felt like I knew her from the present forward but wanted more insight as to her thinking and how her mother's twisted upbringing of Sugar had come about. Or maybe, that is what makes me like this novel so much. I don't have all the pieces.
It is amazing to travel back to the Victorian era and experience the norms of the time: limited access to running water, little understanding of mental health issues and incredible poverty with extremely poor sanitation. Social norms are even more stiking.
Beware of starting this book, you can't put it down!