Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Crimson Petal and the White Read-along: Week 5 and 6

It's over! Can you believe it? Once again I'm sneaking two weeks into one, because that's how I roll. I started this post before I'd finished the book and now obviously I have finished it, so if my answers are a bit all over the place in terms of what I know/don't know, then that's why. Just... go with it.

Week 5 questions

1) Sophie and Sugar's relationship has developed a lot this week. How do you think this is affecting them? And the Rackham household generally?

Like I said last week, I'm glad Sophie has someone on her side. I feel so sorry for her- it's tough enough to be a young girl in this time, without everything else she has to deal with- she's alone, her nurse seemed a bit forbidding, and her parents are pretty much totally absent. So it's nice that she has Sugar now. It's unexpected that Sugar would come to be such a good governess and get on so well with Sophie, but it's nice. It shows us a different side to Sugar than we've previously seen.

2) Let's talk about Agnes. I don't think that even those of us that hadn't read the book before expected her to see the end of the book but her actual (maybe?) demise wasn't what I was expecting! What do you think? Was it her body that William identified or is she living happily at a convent somewhere?

It's funny, the first time I read this book I was pretty convinced it was her, but I'm much more sceptical this time around, because it doesn't really make sense for her to be anywhere near the river. I suppose she could have been stolen away by someone or come to another unhappy end, but I choose to believe she found a convent and lived out her remaining days peacefully. She deserves some sort of happiness at the end of it all.

3) As we move into the last section of the book how are your predictions from Week One panning out? If you've read it before, how well do you remember what's coming up? How should we be feeling?!

Awkward answering this question after we've finished, but anyway! I sort of had vague memories of what happened (Sugar moving into the Rackham house, Agnes and Henry dying) but it was only when we actually got to Henry's death that I suddenly remembered all the details about how it ends. Memory is funny like that. Then there's another big thing that happens in the final section, but I'll talk about that in the next part ;)

Week 6 questions

1) THE ENDING! Discuss.

Yeah... I totally forgot about the ending. Or lack thereof. I actually double-checked to make sure my copy wasn't missing pages :P

I'm not opposed to ambiguous endings where not everything is wrapped up- I actually prefer them, in many ways- but the ending is crazy abrupt. I suppose you can fill in the rest of the details- I like to think Sugar and Sophie got away and are living more or less happily together, far far away, and that William dies in a fire. Sorry. But I have to rant some more about William.

You almost think when Sugar moves in that it's going to be a case of Sugar taking over the wife/mother role eventually, with Agnes being shipped off to an asylum or dead. He's obviously attracted to Sugar, and she's business minded and probably more suited to him than Agnes was. Sure, there'd be a bit of scandal for William to marry his governess- especially if Sugar was pregnant when they married- but it wasn't completely unheard of. Things like that did happen, and people did get through them with their reputation relatively unscathed.

But, noooo. Instead William loses all interest in her and she's just the servant/whore. How dare he dismiss her for being pregnant when he got her pregnant in the first place. How dare he. But yeah, that sort of thing happened all the time back then- servants being fired for being impregnated by their own employers. Which just makes it all the sadder.

(Sugar did succeed in aborting, right? It's not completely clear on that part. I hope she did, it would make the 'happily ever after with Sophie' part so much easier.)

But, you know, Sugar was a big part of the Rackham perfumeries success- with all her marketing decisions and practically writing letters for him, so with her loss and the stress of losing the rest of the family, I'd say William's fortunes won't last long. Thank god.

(Phew. Had to get all that out :P )

2) How do you feel about the book overall? Score out of 5? Is it something you'd recommend other readers pick up?

I'm gonna say maybe 4.5? Like I've been saying all along, it is basically right up my street- well-written, evocative fiction set in my favourite time period. The ending is frustrating, but I don't think it outweighs the rest of the book. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone interested in this period. And if you're daunted by the page count, don't be, because the pages really do fly by.

It's reminded me that I really need to track down Michel Faber's other stuff- from what I've heard, all his books are really different but all really good. So I'm curious. Then there's The Apple, which I forgot existed and definitely want to read now, because I love this universe, I really do.

There's also a BBC adaptation I forgot about! I haven't seen it but I'm intrigued. Mark Gatiss plays Henry and Chris O'Dowd (of all people) plays William, so I'd be interested in seeing that if I can track it down online or find a DVD cheap.

Thanks for hosting Charlotte! It's been a blast, thank you for giving me an excuse to re-read an old favourite :)

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