Saturday, July 23, 2011

I wish I could write like this

I've written before about Tipping the Velvet, the miniseries; but it's taken me until now to pick up the actual book. I've only just begun - Nan and Kitty are still striking up a friendship that will blossom into something more - but I'm already in love with the author's (Sarah Waters) style. Every sentence is thick with eroticism, even something as prosaic as a description of Kitty taking off her stage makeup. Here, have a read:
     She sang on; then opened one eye very wide, and leaned close to the glass to remove a stubborn crumb of spit-black - her mouth stretching wide, out of a kind of sympathy with her eyelids, and her breath misting the mirror. For a second she seemed quite to have forgotten me. I studied the skin of her face and her throat. It had emerged from its mask of powder and grease the colour of cream - the colour of the lace on her chemise; but it was darkened at the nose and cheeks - and even, I saw, at the edge of her lip - by freckles., brown as her hair. I had not suspected the existence of the freckles. I found them wonderfully and inexplicably moving.
Then there's this bit, from a few paragraphs later. Nan is about to leave and takes off her glove to shake Kitty's hand, but...
     All at once she was the gallant boy of the footlights again. She straightened her back, made me a little bow, and raised my knuckles to her lips.
     I flushed with pleasure - until I saw her nostrils quiver, and knew, suddenly, what she smelled: those rank sea-scents, of liquor and oyster-flesh, crab-meat and whelks, which had flavored my fingers and those of my family for so many years we had all ceased, entirely, to notice them. Now I had thrust them beneath Kitty Butler's nose! I felt ready to die of shame.
     I made, at once, to pull my hand away; but she held it fast in her own, still pressed to her lips, and laughed at me over the knuckles. There was a look in her eye I could not quite interpret.
     'You smell,' she began, slowly and wonderingly, 'like-'
     'Like a herring!' I said bitterly. My cheeks were hot now and very red; there were tears, almost, in my eyes. I think she saw my confusion and was sorry for it.
     'Not at all like a herring,' she said gently. 'But perhaps, maybe, like a mermaid...' And she kissed my fingers properly, and this time I let her; and at last my blush faded, and I smiled.
     I put my glove back on. My fingers seemed to tingle against the cloth. 'Will you come and see me again, Miss Mermaid?' she asked.
Like I said, I've only just begun this book. I know there are dozens of incredible (and occasionally kinky) sex scenes ahead, and I can't wait to find them. Just think: if Sarah Waters can pack this much eroticism into a hand-kiss, what can she do with an actual lovemaking scene?

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