Document 1011

Review of "The Crimson Petal and the White" (Michel Faber)

Author(s): Liz Niven

Copyright holder(s): Liz Niven


"The Crimson Petal and the White" by Michel Faber pub Canongate ISBN 1 84195 323 7 £17.99

Dutch scriever, Michel Faber, was brocht up in Australia bit noo bides in Fearn in Easter Ross. An award-winnin an prolific prose scriever, Faber is weel kent in Scotland fir his remarkable novel, ‘Under the Skin’ set in Easter Ross. This mair raicent buik, ‘The Crimson Petal and the White’ taks place in the gey contrastin time an settin o nineteenth centurie London.

Twinty year in the researchin an scrievin, this muckle buik o 835 pages is scrievit fully in the Victorian novel tradeetion. Influenced by novelists sic as Dickens, Hardy or Eliott, Faber scrieves a lang an complex plot wi a strang tale. The narrative vyce employed is in the nineteenth cenutrie tradeetion an aw, wi an intrusive narrator introducing us tae the buik’s characters an settins. Fir maist readers o the twinty furst centurie, it mibbe is a guid thing, Dear Reader, that this device ends efter the first few hunner pages, as the reader tires o bein sae overtlie manipulatit by sic an authorial intrusion. Houanever, the device dis serve tae firmlie pit the reader intae the close proximitie o the central characters lives.

The buik depicts the story o a prostitute cried Sugar, a young wumman, selt intae ‘the business’ as a teenager by her ain cruel an hairtless mither. Sugar attracts the attentions o a weel kent perfume mercatman, an, as William Rackham becomes besottit by the prostitute, at the same time as his ain mairriage is declining, he resolves tae mak her life better. Providin her wi a hoose in a guid pairt o toon, wi siller tae dress weel and a mair comfortable life, turns intae invitin her intae his ain hoose as a governess fir his dochter.

Bit Sugar is nae ordinary prostitute. She, in atween plyin her trade, has been scrievin her ain novel, an is blesst wi a smert brain as weel as desire tae lift herself oot o the gutter.

Faber introduces various social an psychological maitters intae the buik’s fabric an we’re made tae consider the implications o povertie an cless inequalities as weel as a wheen ither complex issues. The maist complex issue that he explores is the personal an physical relationships atween men an wimmen. It wid be nae unnerstatement tae say that, in general, the male character in the buik disnae come oot weel, an maist o the wimmen hae the harshest treatment in life. Whit is interestin is the exploration o the female psyche fae a male author’s pynt o view; Faber his researched mair nor nineteenth centurie London.

The complexities and machinations o the plot are ower muckle (at 835 pages!) tae explore in a wee few wirds, bit if ye arenae o a delicate an easily offendit nature, the ‘Crimson Petal and the White’ transports ye tae a time, an a scrievin style, lang gaun by thou dealin wi timeless themes.

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The SCOTS Project and the University of Glasgow do not necessarily endorse, support or recommend the views expressed in this document.


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APA Style:

Review of "The Crimson Petal and the White" (Michel Faber). 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 21 May 2024, from

MLA Style:

"Review of "The Crimson Petal and the White" (Michel Faber)." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2024. Web. 21 May 2024.

Chicago Style

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "Review of "The Crimson Petal and the White" (Michel Faber)," accessed 21 May 2024,

If your style guide prefers a single bibliography entry for this resource, we recommend:

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2024. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.


Information about Document 1011

Review of "The Crimson Petal and the White" (Michel Faber)


Text audience

Adults (18+)
General public
Informed lay people
Audience size 100+

Text details

Method of composition Wordprocessed
Word count 502

Text medium

Magazine (e-zine)

Text publication details

Publisher Lallans Magazine
Part of larger text
Contained in Lallans Magazine

Text setting


Text type



Author details

Author id 19
Forenames Liz
Surname Niven
Gender Female
Decade of birth 1950
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Occupation Writer
Place of birth Glasgow
Region of birth Glasgow
Birthplace CSD dialect area Gsw
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Dumfries
Region of residence E & Mid Dumfries
Residence CSD dialect area Dmf
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Gardener
Father's place of birth Glasgow
Father's region of birth Glasgow
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Gsw
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Seamstress
Mother's place of birth Glasgow
Mother's region of birth Glasgow
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Gsw
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes Work / home
French Yes Yes Yes Yes With French people / films
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes Work / home