The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
This is a story that I picked up after seeing that its form of storytelling debated on librarything.com . It is the story of Sugar the prostitute. A reasonably famous specimen, well known for never saying no. It is the story of how she works to pull herself out of the slums and make a better life for herself. I was hooked to Sugar's story within the first chapter and would have read non-stop the entire 900 or so pages if life had allowed me that luxury.
She pulls many people into her life, and actually works to help them whether she realizes it or not. As the primary "friend" of William Rackham, she eases herself into his life, seeing him as her first shot to leave her poor life behind her.
The primary debate about the book was it's sexuality and the language used. I did not see any descriptions that I would consider to be unnecessarily repulsive. The language used is the language that was actually used in the time period instead of the flowery language that is used in fiction written during the era. I did not detect any scenes where the author used sex for the sake of writing about sex. Each scene in the book was an important step in Sugar's journey to her new life, for better or worse. Overall it was a story that balanced the ups with the downs, and gave enough detail of the many places and people to bring the book to life. While this book should be reserved for a mature reader that can handle the subject matter of prostitutes and sex with respect and an adult attitude, as a 29 year old adult female, I was not offended.