Over 800 pages long, this novel is impressive for the unflagging energy with which it covers stage after stage of a marathon in which it all too deliberately competes with the shades of Dickens and Wilkie Collins. It is also impressive for the candour, denied to those two master storytellers, with which it illuminates the dark, dangerous world of Victorian sexuality.
As if flourishing a banner inscribed ‘Let copulation thrive!, Michel Faber acts as enthusiastic, clarion-voiced guide through a vast peep show in which every aspect of human cruelty, degradation and criminality is on display. It is always in the present tense that he addresses the reader. ‘Sugar is going home,