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The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories (2006)

The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories (2006)

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3.59 of 5 Votes: 2
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1841958387 (ISBN13: 9781841958385)
canongate books ltd

About book The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories (2006)

The Apple is a hard book to rate. On the one hand, I enjoyed the seven stories contained in it for the additional glimpse they provide into the lives of the characters of The Crimson Petal and the White, one of the best novels I've read this year. On the other hand, they don't provide nearly enough glimpses for my liking, and I doubt they'll appeal much to people who haven't read The Crimson Petal. So. Yeah. Conundrum!Three of the stories in The Apple are set before the events of The Crimson Petal. They show Sugar treating Christopher to a nice Christmas meal at Mrs Castaway's, Sugar having to deal with proselytising evangelists, and Emmeline writing letters to American slave owners. They're nice enough stories, but to my critical eye, they look rather like outtakes from the book with which Faber couldn't quite part. The remaining four stories, which take place after the ending of The Crimson Petal, are much better in my opinion. I delighted in seeing the unpleasant fate of Clara, the Rackhams' evil servant. I grinned at Mr Bodley's unenthusiastic visit to a brothel, which culminates in a laugh-out-loud encounter with a Malaysian prostitute who hasn't had a chance to learn proper English yet. I nodded with satisfaction at the poetic justice of William Rackham's fate. And most of all, I relished the opportunity to see what had become of Sophie Rackham, and how she had implemented the lessons Miss Sugar taught her. Sophie's is an interesting, occasionally poignant tale with some nice historical tangents -- the best in the collection, I think. But as much as I enjoyed the various vignettes, they didn't satisfy me. I wanted more. I wanted to hear what had become of Caroline and the Rackhams' lecherous driver. I wanted to hear what had become of Christopher, the young brothel boy. And most of all, I wanted to hear -- in detail! -- what had become of Sugar, The Crimson Petal's heroine. Amazingly enough, Sugar's post-Petal life hardly gets a mention in The Apple. We learn where she took Sophie and that they did a bit of exploring together, but we never find out what Sugar ended up making of herself. Nor do we get a full account of Sugar's post-abduction relationship with Sophie, or find out what Sophie really felt about the abduction, because the one time the subject is brought up is in a story which isn't told from Sophie's point of view. Seriously, how sucky is that?As for the stand-alone value of The Apple, I don't think it has any. Sure, the stories have their charms, and the one about Sophie's later years is actually quite interesting from a historical point of view, but I doubt they'll mean much to people who aren't already familiar with the characters. Nor do I think they make particularly good examples of the short story in general. Faber may be a fabulous novelist, but short stories aren't his forte, and it shows here. The seven stories in The Apple are a very nice try, but they don't live up to the expectations raised by The Crimson Petal. Then again, very few things do.I know Faber has said he won't write a sequel to The Crimson Petal and the White, but I'm harbouring a secret hope that the fact that there's hardly any information on Sugar's post-Petal life in The Apple means that Faber intends to write a full-length account of it elsewhere. If that ever happens, I'll be first in line to read it.-------ORIGINAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Short stories about the characters from The Crimson Petal and the White, which you should all read because it's amazing!

In 2003 The Crimson Petal and the White was published to much acclaim. I read it and awarded it five plump wobbly stars. But other readers had other reactions. In his forward to this slender collection of short stories, Mr Faber says that he gets letters from his readers and he keeps them in a box. So that’s surprising right there – who writes to authors? I would never have the nerve. I mean, what would you say to Shakespeare? Dear Bard, I must say that I thought The Tempest was a wonderful note on which to bring down the curtain, as it were, on your illustrious career. You are my favourite Elizabethan playwright. Have a wonderful retirement. Your friend, P Bryant. Dear Brett Easton Ellis, I have now spoken with my lawyers and if you attempt to contact me again or come within 100 yards of myself and my immediate family (note – mother in law not counted as immediate) you will be in breach of the court order and prompt action will be taken. Yours, P Bryant. Anyway, Mr Faber received letters saying “Why do you make me suffer more?” and “I implore you, please please please” and another said “The Crimson Petal is the most frustrating, maddening masterwork that I have ever trudged through in my life…novels are supposed to have satisfying tight endings…” so basically everyone got to the end, all 835 pages, and found there was no ending, it just stopped.It was like the old refrain : “if you want any more you can sing it yourself”.It was really a bit rude. 835 pages and no ending?People really got into this novel. He quotes a note from a gentlemen in Lancashire :A few days before Christmas I was half awake and the first thought that came to me was what I could obtain as Christmas presents for Miss Sophie, Sugar, and Mrs Fox. Then suddenly I realised who they really were.Well, Mr Faber relented, kind of, and wrote this collection of stories about the fates of the characters in his giant novel. It does answer most questions, and I thought it was splendid, but I’m pretty much a Faber fanboy.

Do You like book The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories (2006)?

This is a slim volume containing 8 short stories in which some of the main characters in The Crimson Petal and The White have their fates revealed. This is for everyone who, like me, finished the original book and thought ‘But what happened next to Sugar, Sophie, William…;’The Apple doesn’t have all the answers but it does have some as we meet an older Sophie, Clare, her mother’s maid who’s fallen on hard times and become a prostitute, and Miss Sugar appears tantalisingly in the background.And William Rackham, aspiring perfume magnate is mourned by only one person who tries to find him and comes across literally a dead end.Victorian society seems to be an arena in which Michael Faber is completely at ease as he evokes it so well as he did in The Crimson Petal and once again I was engulfed in it completely. He uses key scenes from the first book to good effect such as the street urchin throwing mud at a passing carriage and it had the effect on me of wanting to reread it again.But once again I would have liked more but this will do for now…
—Carole Tyrrell

What I really liked about this volume is the author's Forward. I appreciated the attention he paid to the readers' letters he received --- and saved. Since I thought that The Crimson Petal and the White was a really Dickensian book, what could be better than the fan letters that expressed deep interest and concern for the lives and fortunes of the characters? Dickens got loads of letters, too, I believe. Perhaps, the letters influenced Dickens to make plot changes or alter details as the periodical publication of, say, Dombey and Son, went along. Not so with Mr. Faber. For one thing, The Crimson Petal is done and, IMHO, satisfactorily done. For another, he doesn't want to project his Crimson Petal characters into plot-driven futures. Their lives have moved on beyond the world of the book.But Mr. F. does settle on some snapshots of the characters' futures and their pasts as in the case of Miss Fox. But the snapshots don't tell us very much about how people got to where they are. So, William Rackham is a mess. Not a big surprise. So Clara became a prostitute. Not a surprise either, given the world Mr. F. depicted. So we don't hear a word about Sugar (other than that she survived and maybe ended up in Australia). Delightful. So Sophie survived and is unconventional for 1908. That's ok. But there's not much to connect her to the Sophie of The Crimson Petal except the described, but unanalyzed, trauma of an impulsive visit to Notting Hill.I feel that the stories are Mr. F's acts of kindness to the letter writers. His attachment to them is apparent in the last paragraph of the Forward. But the stories are just not really very interesting to me. They have a "soap" quality. The last story is somewhat more interesting because it speaks of women on the cusp of leaving the hopelessly oppressive Victorian/Edwardian world that Mr. F. described so well in The Crimson Petal.I'm glad I read the stories for the sake of knowing what they're about, but I could advise people to skip them.

The back of my book states that Faber is a "master" of no less than two items - "his subject" AND "the short story form". Glowing praise but I was unsure that such a slim volume could stand up to it. However, I'd loved the first book so gave this a go.Quite a number of writers have seemed to want to delve further into fictional worlds and characters they have already created recently. For example, Susannah Clarke and "The Ladies of Grace Adieu" and this collection. This is basically a return to various characters first seen in "The Crimson Petal and the White". What is interesting about both these collections is that rather than neatening the edges they have rather sought to increase and further the ambiguity. This works particularly well in the case of Sugar as her character is already so difficult to pin down. In fact, this was one of the triumphs of the first book where Sugar was a rather chameleonic (is that a word?) character, adopting the attributes that best suited the situation rather than divulging anything of herself - a method of writing that particularly suited her line of work as a prostitute.I particularly loved the short story format. The form is so difficult to get right and this collection was deceptively simple. It was only when I glanced back over the story of "Clara and the Rat Man" that I realised how beautifully the timescale was handled as Clara flips from remembering the past to approaching the future. It was beautifully textured, layering memory with present experience and drove home very forcefully how talented a writer Faber is. It was like discovering a seam in a piece of clothing after hours of examination that was so exquisitely done that it was almost entirely hidden from view. Time, place and the voices of the individual characters are all elegantly done. For once I agree the back of the books blurb.

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