Thursday, September 19, 2013

Literary Bite: The Crimson Petal and the White

Let's talk about books, shall we? It's been far too long since I've written a Literary Bite, but if you look at my "reading log" on the left sidebar, you'll see that I've been reading! Most of those entries account for books I read during my travels this I spend all my time reading scholarly articles and fascinating works of literature and poetry such as "The Use of Force and Statecraft," and "The Global Negotiator," and "Quantitative Methods for Economics." (Me = sarcastic much? Though those things are interesting to me in their own way...but I won't subject you all to the details...)

Anywho, traveling and reading are like chocolate and peanut butter: you can have one without the other, but why would you??? Long bus rides, hang out time in a beautiful location (remember our Beautiful Nap Time?), afternoon tea, guest house resting, really whenever! Especially when I was alone in Thailand for six days -- I inhaled books in that time because there was no one to talk to! In preparation for that time alone, I picked up a tome of a book in a used bookstore in Kathmandu (maximizing words per rupee, like you do!), and luckily for me, The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber was soooooo good!

I knew nothing about the book and had never heard of the author. I bought it on the recommendation of a random woman in the store (she first recommended a Vikram Seth book, all of whose works I have already read, so I trusted her judgement).

The Crimson Petal and the White is incredibly well-written and engaging, but also border-line trashy. But I propose we forgive its raciness and keep it in the "real literature" category based on its merits as an AWESOME story, and just not recommend it to our grandmothers? (Actually, just kidding, go ahead and recommend away, I bet yours and my grandma will like it!)

It's the story of a smart and ambitious prostitute in 1870s London, who seduces the heir to a perfume business, and gets involved in the business herself. But then as she grows to love him more (and love the new lifestyle?), issues arise (crazy wife!). I realize I just made it sound like a cheesy soap opera...BUT you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll not want to put it down. Seriously, I think I read this book for five hours a day while I was camping alone, and spent the better part of an all-day bus ride from Bangkok to Siam Reap engrossed in these pages.

Read it!