This is a story that I picked up after seeing that its literary value and storytelling debated on LibraryThing. It is the story of Sugar, a reasonably famous prostitute, 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. But when things take a turn and she is forced to face the fact that she will never truly be equal because of her profession, she does what she needs to do to protect what (and who) she considers hers.
The primary debate about the book was its sexuality and the language used. I did not see any descriptions that I would consider to be unnecessarily vulgar. The language used is the language that was actually used in the time period instead of the flowery language that is often used in fiction depicting the era. I never felt like the author was writing about sex just 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, and a very realistic look into history. 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. 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.