Here's a lovely website that I often revisit, Jeanette Winterson's site. If you are not familar with the magnificent writing of Winterson I'd recommend you do so as soon as possible. I think I've read all bar one or two of her books.

Its difficult to describe what makes Winterson so special. I first encountered Winterson when I was about 17 or 18, watching the opening episode of Oranges are Not the Only Fruit with a cousin, who'd read Sexing the Cherry. I was drawn in by the story - a mother/daughter tale which to me was not unlike the relationship between myself and my mother. I grew up with the same level of religiosity and authoritarianism at home. I could really understand the limitations that your life seem to have when you come from a high authoritarian working class background. I read the book not long afterwards and eventually went on to buy most of Winterson's books. She's a strong sense of fantasy, often writing strongly biblical or classically - for example, much of The Passion is set in Venice during the Napoleonic wars, whearas Sexing the Cherry owes its structure to the old testament.

For this reason, Winterson has been something bewildering to many gay women, where the culture tends to lean towards politically obvious and often explicit fiction. Winterson bothered the lesbian thought police in a similar manner as Jackie Clune, who caused mass outrage amongst British gay women by going straight after 12 years and daring to write about it. Clune's article caused several letters to be written to the Guardian in response to the article, making it clearly obvious that she is not an exception, whatever the feelings of the dyke politicos. Because Winterson geared her fiction towards an intelligent rather than mass readership, because she did not write for gay women, she managed to spark off a high degree of annoyance at a culture who pre-Xena, rarely interpreted the subtle and the innuendo as meaningful to them.

Of course Xena changed all that, but Winterson has written only one novel since the mid 90s. In fact it didn't even create the sort of impact that the previous novels did. I remember reading dozens of articles about the gender issue in newspapers and the book itself is intriguing and sometimes so true to life its painful. The book basically is the ramblings of the aftermath of an affair with a married woman, though it also delves into the sources of infidelity. Its one of the most beautiful books I've read in its sadness. The story is described as a tour de force of pain - pain of loss, pain of missing somebody. I've found it to be one of the truest books I have ever read.


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