Waters's first novel, from 1998, is a wonderfully inventive project that manages to combine several literary traditions in one engrossing adventure tale. It's part Victorian novel, part erotic romance, part picaresque. Imagine Dickens writing "50 Shades of Grey." Set in late-nineteenth-century London, the plot follows the lifestyle changes of a working-class woman who finds herself on the music hall stage as a "masher" (male impersonator), in love with her female stage partner, but unable to live openly. Degradation and tragedy follow, before a rousing and heartwarming resolution. The only flaws may be that the plot drags a bit at times, and perhaps we see a bit more than we want to of our protagonist's bedroom adventures. Very sexually explicit, this is not for anyone squeamish in that regard.

Chapel_Hill_KenMc's rating:
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