Robert Edric

No petticoat long unlifted

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THE CRIMSON PETAL AND THE WHITE

Michel Faber

Canongate, pp. 864, £

Few admirers of Faber's recent spate of tales and novellas - the spacious and admirably unadorned The Courage Consort and The Hundred and Ninety-Nine Steps, for instance - will be prepared for the solid and all-inclusive recreation of (an echo here of Iain Sinclair's White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings) The Crimson Petal and the White. Twenty years in the making, Faber's latest work boldly proclaims itself and its High Victorian intentions from the outset. No post-modern sleight of hand