According to its publisher, it's "a big, bawdy and beautiful historical novel that has been 20 years in the making." What Harcourt couldn't foresee when putting together its press materials was the tremendous buzz that would be generated by Michel Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White. (And, at 838 pages, "big" is right.) PW's starred, boxed review called the novel "a gorgeous, Dickensian doorstopper"; Time said, "don't wait for the movie... a book like this is even better than sex"; and according to, it's "the breakout literature bestseller of the season." Faber's kicking off a seven-city tour on October 10 with a reading at New York City's Housingworks, followed by a reading on the 12th in the gallery of the Brooklyn Museum. Four trips back to press following a 40,000-copy first printing have brought the total to 120,000.

With reporting by Dick Donahue