Meet Sugar, a nineteen-year-old prostitute in nineteenth-century London who yearns for escape to a better life. From the brothel of the terrifying Mrs. Castaway, she begins her ascent through society, meeting a host of lovable, maddening, unforgettable characters on the way. They begin with William Rackham, an egotistical perfume magnate whose empire is fueled by his lust for Sugar; his unhinged, child-like wife Agnes; his mysteriously hidden-away daughter, Sophie; and his pious brother Henry, foiled in his devotional calling by a persistently less-than-chaste love for the Widow Fox. All this is overseen by assorted preening socialites, drunken journalists, untrustworthy servants, vile guttersnipes, and whores of all stripes and persuasions.
Teeming with life, this is a big, juicy must-read of a novel that has enthralled hundreds of thousands of readers-and will continue to do so for years to come.
I just loved this book and am so sorry to have finished it.
It’s like a private serial of ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ but X rated – it is really crude in places but fitting in context. The book is very detailed but never ever dull. What an achievement. It’s a sorry tale mostly about the lives of women in the late 19th century. The utter dependence on men of both rich and poor women and children alike. The seediness and filth of London at that time. The lustrous richness of those with money. It’s all here. I kept trying to second guess what was going to happen. Things are left open at the end – I wonder if there is a second book in the making?