The author write in 2nd person, so it's you who begins the book wandering through a late 1800s, Dickens-esque England. You immediately find yourself keeping company with various "women of ill repute" who are immediately humanized as women that the industrial revolution is not looking kindly upon. In order to make ends meet, these women have chosen to work less than their factory laboring counterparts in return for higher pay and shorter lifespans. And among these women is a highly-sought-after lady of intelligence and grace named Sugar. She's willing to do anything you want as well as have intelligent conversations with you, so she has many repeat customers. Only ... a newly rich young man wants her to himself.
In the beginning, I thought that everything was too good to be true. 200 pages in and no conflict had arisen. Everything went smoothly for every character at every turn. You don't realize that you expect conflict in a book until everything's perfect. And in fact, for some characters in the book, everything does always seem to go right. However, other characters only manage to spiral downward.
This is the story of a whore's rise from the Dickens-esque slums of England to a place of prominence in one of the finest families of uppity duppity Notting Hill. It's the story of a man's rise to riches in which he loses everything that's important to him. It's the story of a tortured man who loses his life while his terminally ill paramour recovers. It's the story of a mentally ill woman's flight to freedom. And it's the story of a little girl's luck of finally finding someone to love her.
With fields of endless lavender and 833 pages of text, this is quite a long book to commit to. It was a pleasant read throughout, but I wasn't staying up nights wanting to read yet more and more of it, so it took nearly a month to get through it. However, I think there are certain components of this book that I'll take with me in memory forever.