Before we’ve reached the 100th page of this, Ms Walters can’t hold it in any longer:
Maud stood very still, her pink lips parted [ooh er], her face put back, her eyes at first closed and then open and gazing at me, her cheek with a flush upon it, her throat lifted and sank as she swallowed, my hand grew wet [ooh er#2] from the damp of her breaths [ooh er #3]. I rubbed [ooh er #4] and then felt with my thumb [ooh er #5]. She swallowed again, her eyelids fluttered, and she caught my eye.
Now you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was some form of erotic seduction, particularly given the title of the novel, but that’s all in the mind of Ms Waters. It’s actually someone performing dental work. I kid you not.
If you want to know what life is like when you can’t help but colour every one of life’s narrative with the same shade of pink, then Sarah Waters is your novelist. This is such a shame because she can actually write a fairly decent story, as I’ve said before.
This reads almost like three Dickens novels in one. Charles himself would have been proud of the number of twists (gedditt??) Waters employs. Unfortunately, they start to become what the reader expects and anyone with slightly more brain than average can see them coming. True to form, there’s a happy ending of course, just after all the baddies get their just desserts. Yawn.
Having finished my second (and last) Waters, this novel has done nothing to shake my previous impression that
all her creativity isn’t simply an elaborate means to the banal end of trying to convince me that every woman in Victorian England was a lesbian.
Heterosexuality is almost entirely banished from the novel: the most eligible bachelor only pretends to be hetero as part of the plot (Gentleman), the matriarch (Mrs Sucksby) gets her children without male support from off the street, the protagonist’s mother is described in memories and lamented over deeply but the father is never alluded to, and the men involved in collecting porn are either so addicted to it that they have eschewed normal hetero relations (Christopher Lilly) or use their marriage as a front to appear ‘normal’ (William Lazenby).
Could it be that Sarah Waters is attempting to use fiction to give us an alternative view of history as fact? Oh, surely not.