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the crimson petal and the white

REVIEWER: lyall carter

★★★★

Set in 1870s London, a young prostitute finds potential power and status after becoming the mistress of a powerful patriarch.

Enter a Victorian England you've never seen: gritty, dark, and unsettling. Based on Michel Faber's inter­national bestseller, this four-part BBC series follows the fortunes of Sugar (Romola Garai, Atonement, Emma), a notorious prostitute who longs for a better life.

 

Sexually adept, ambitious, and clever, she casts a spell on William Rackham (Chris O'Dowd, Bridesmaids, The IT Crowd), feckless heir to a perfume business and husband to a wife slipping slowly into insanity. As their lives intertwine, events are set in motion that will change them forever.

 

You haven’t seen a period drama quite like this. Gone are the sterilized niceties of the period dramas your grandmother loves, The Crimson Petal and the White is gritty and grimy with dirt underneath its fingernails. The streets are filled with mud, blood and people dying in the streets and prostitutes making sure they don’t get pregnant after the deed is done. 

 

But at the heart of The Crimson Petal and the White Sugar, a prostitute, harbours notions of escaping that line of work and attempts to use William Rackham to do so. She isn’t some damsel in distress that needs saving from the rich society man, Sugar is intelligent and has complete and utter autonomy. 

 

Although The Crimson Petal and the White is not your grandmother's period drama, it's a bold story of a young woman doing what it takes to make it in her world. 

★★★★

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The Crimson Petal and the White is available on disc and digital from all good retailers.