by Celine Saintclare
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Pub Date 09 Jan 2024 | Archive Date 31 Dec 2023
Bloomsbury USA, Bloomsbury Publishing
In the vein of Luster and Queenie, an unflinching portrayal of high-paid sex work in the age of the internet--an intoxicating, bold debut from a dazzling new voice.
Sugar, Baby follows Agnes, a mixed-race 21-year-old whose life seems to be heading nowhere. Still living at home, she works as a cleaner and spends all her money in clubs on the weekends searching for distractions from her mundane life. That is until she meets Emily, daughter of one of her cleaning clients, who lives in London and works as a model . . . and a sugar baby, dating rich older men for money.
Emily's life is the escape Agnes has been longing for: extravagant tasting menus, champagne on tap, glamorous hotels with unlimited room service, designer gifts from dates who call her beautiful. But this new lifestyle is the last straw for her religious mother Constance.
Thrown out of her family home, Agnes moves in with Emily and the other sugar babies in their fancy London flat and is drawn deeper and deeper into their world. But these women come from money: they possess a safety net Agnes does not. And as she is thrown from one precarious relationship to the next--a married man who wants to show off the glamourous, exotic girl on his arm; a Russian billionaire's wife who makes Agnes central to a sex party in Miami--she finds herself searching for fulfillment just as desperately as she was before.
A compelling journey of self-discovery that offers sharp commentary on race, beauty, and class, Sugar, Baby is an electric, original, spellbinding novel that will keep readers turning the pages until the very end.
"Celine Saintclare’s captivating debut, Sugar, Baby, is, on its surface, about the limitless power of beauty, but underneath that narrative lurks a second, darker one, in which Saintclare shows us in heartbreaking detail that there are indeed limits to what that power can buy. Sugar, Baby is an elegantly crafted bait-and-switch, where a story about the ease and glamour of sex work cracks open to reveal a deeper and more delicious secret: that the true sweetness of life lies not in the comfort of being kept, but in the autonomy we are able to maintain for ourselves. And the beauty of that kind of living—hand-made and hard-won—is priceless." —Destiny O. Birdsong, award-winning author of Nobody's Magic
"Incredibly glamorous, incredibly dark and incredibly hopeful all at once, Sugar, Baby is a brilliantly compulsive exploration of class, power, sexuality, and our hyper-fixation with youth and beauty. I loved it!" —Katie Bishop, author of The Girls of Summer
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 33 members
I absolutely loved this! The writing was delectable and the story was incredibly gripping. I couldn't put this book down, as just like the main character, I was drawn into this world of glamour, but also of danger and disrespect. A nuanced take on sex work and the sacrifices made in that world.
Also LOVE both the US and UK covers!
I ate this book up! This is one of those books you never want to put down. The story was intense, glamorous, sexy, dirty, shameful, exciting and SO much more. Pretty much you get lots of feels while reading this.
I loved our main character Agnes and Emily was also fantastically done. All of our other characters were also perfect for their parts.
I really didn’t want this book to end, but also wanted Agnes to get off the crazy train ride she was on. You definitely route for her and find yourself making excuses for her wild behavior because you feel for her so much.
This was such an entertaining and enlightening book. I will be very interested to see what else this author will write!
Thank you NetGalley and Celine Saintclare for my free copy, I am leaving my unbiased opinion!
A wonderful debut! This book made me think of Luster. I enjoyed this book a lot. It takes you into the world of escorting, but in a gentle and very respectful way. I thought this was a brilliant debut.
Sugar, Baby was a gripping take on the world of sugar dating. I couldn't put this book down because I needed to know what was going to happen to Agnes. This was a great coming-of-age story about power, beauty, and danger for fans of Luster.
Thank you NetGalley for a free e-galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Celine Saintclare's "Sugar, Baby" is an audacious and thought-provoking debut novel that delves into the world of high-paid sex work through the lens of a young mixed-race woman's journey of self-discovery. This novel, reminiscent of the bold storytelling found in "Luster" and "Queenie," explores themes of race, class, and the pursuit of fulfillment in an age dominated by the internet and materialism.
The protagonist, Agnes, is a compelling and complex character whose life is steeped in mundanity until she meets Emily, a sugar baby who introduces her to a world of luxury, glamour, and the precarious nature of relationships based on financial transactions. Saintclare portrays Agnes' transformation and descent into this lifestyle with a raw and unflinching honesty that captures the allure and the inherent dangers of this world.
One of the novel's greatest strengths is its nuanced exploration of the intersectionality of race, beauty, and class. Agnes' experiences as a mixed-race woman navigating the sugar baby lifestyle add layers of complexity to the narrative, offering sharp commentary on how societal perceptions of race and beauty shape individual experiences. The contrast between Agnes' background and that of the other sugar babies, who come from wealth and possess safety nets she lacks, is particularly poignant, highlighting the disparities in their experiences and choices.
However, the novel's unflinching portrayal of its subject matter might not resonate with all readers. The depiction of the relationships and the challenges Agnes faces can be unsettling, and the narrative's rawness and intensity require a level of engagement that may be demanding for some.
"Sugar, Baby" is an electric and original novel that does not shy away from challenging its readers. Saintclare's debut is a spellbinding exploration of a young woman's search for fulfillment in a world that often values surface over substance. The novel's compelling narrative and incisive social commentary make it a standout work, offering a fresh and critical perspective on contemporary issues. It is a must-read for those who appreciate novels that combine gripping storytelling with deep, thought-provoking themes.