Martyn Bedford

Beyond The Brothel

The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories

By

Canongate 200pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

Michel Faber has, so we are told, bowed to popular demand. The ending of his bestselling novel The Crimson Petal and the White (2002) prompted hundreds of readers’ letters demanding to know the fate of his protagonists – Sugar, the Victorian prostitute-turned-nanny, and Sophie, the little girl with whom she absconds. Letters, too, from those who loved the novel so much they simply wanted more. The result is this spin-off collection, and how Canongate’s publicist must have relished promoting a book written to please an adoring public. Except that it isn’t. This is no movie-style sequel: ‘Crimson Petal 2 … just when you thought it was safe to go back into the brothel.’ In fairness, the publishers – and Faber himself, in a foreword – take pains to portray The Apple as a compromise, true to the integrity of the original novel but also to the aesthetic legitimacy of these stories themselves. Faber wrote them for himself, as much as for his fans: he had unfinished business with some of the characters he’d created. You don’t need to have read the earlier book, he argues, to appreciate the stories in this one. Nor is this an exercise in tying up narrative loose ends; indeed, these tales invite new speculations to replace the few that are resolved. Quite right, too. As Faber points out: ‘Isn’t it fun, at the end of a book … to construct what happens next in our imaginations?’

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • What a charming, candid blogpost from one of our dear contributing editors. ,
    • RT : The first guess from one of my 1st graders was “death” and such an awed, somber, reflective hush fell over the clas… ,
    • Merry Christmas from Literary Review! Hope your stockings were laden with books, and the tree bending under the weight of further books....,
    • Last minute Christmas gift required? We're offering discounts on all our subscriptions (20% no less!) with the cod… ,
    • In this issue's 'Silenced Voices', Lucy Popescu writes of Thailand's restrictive lese-majesty laws and their latest… ,
    • "Gunn was a disciple of the American formalist Yvor Winters, but Winters’s poetry could never give off such a scent… ,
    • Christmas gift hunting? Why not give the gift of being even better read? We're offering discounts on all our subscr… ,