Sarah Waters [SKINNYFest 4]

Lesbian historical novels: tits without the tat.

Article by Caroline Watlers | 14 Aug 2006
The phrase 'historical novel' rarely inspires confidence in a book's quality, conjuring images of a trashy airport reads. However, Sarah Waters defies this stereotype. She is a butterfly in a world of moths. She depicts a plausible historical world and combines emotional honesty with taut elaborate plots to create something truly exciting.

Whilst working on her PhD in lesbian and gay historical fiction, she was forced to read many tomes of slangy, pornographic and salacious Victorian literature. Her debut was inspired by this research, for its title 'Tipping the Velvet' was a slang term for cunnilingus. It is a tale of love, strife and sexual discovery set in a well-drawn Victorian world. This provided good fodder for a BBC adaptation, which helped bring her to the public's attention.

Waters latest epic, 'The Night Watch', moves away from the Victorian era to WWII. It follows three lesbians, a gay man and a straight woman through their bizarre, seemingly unconnected world. Told in reverse chronological order, connections between events and characters gradually reveal themselves until the world begins to make sense. If only reality worked this way.

Waters is an enigmatic speaker and writer who will demand your attention once you allow her into your life. She breaks the boundaries of the small sphere of lesbian writing and takes it somewhere accessible and exciting.
Sarah Waters appears at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, RBS Main Theatre, August 19, 18:30pm