And so it finally happened;I got around to reading Jeanette Winterson.
I’ve been meaning to read her for ages, so many people who’s taste in books I respect and admire(and to a certain degree try to emulate) rate her highly.
A combination of #readwomenmarch, some of her works being included in the annual Swedish book sales and an otherwise rather big book-heavy TBR-pile finally made it happen.
I started with The passion because @Life in a cold climate speaks highly of it and I wasn’t disappointed. In tone she reminds me of Swedish writer Eva-Maria Liffner who I love, and who’s works could well be influence by Winterson(or maybe not; correlation is not causation)
It’s that dreamy tone that draws me in, like there is something magical going on. An effervescence. Its been pointed out to me that she is a stylist but I think these translations have captured the essence of her. If a translation is bad I usually notice because I find it distracting.
The passion starts out as two stories that get connected later on; we meet the rather naive Henri who is part of Napoleons army and the march towards Moscow, and also a young girl by the name of Villanelle how lives in Venice(and Venice lives in her). I guess the plot is rather besides the point; for me this book was all about the mood and the reflections. They are young people living in dire times and their thoughts mirror that. It might have had a more profound impact on me had I been younger but I was enamored by the prose and reading about Venice always gets me in a good mood; I’m willing to read crime in the form of books by Donna Leon just to relive the magic of that town. I’m not saying her books are bad, I’m just saying it’s not really my thing.
Oranges is not the only fruit is at this point I classic; when I asked for Winterson recommendations many people mentioned this but that’s also because I guess it’s the book by her that most have read. And then it was” half off the sales price” so that ended up being my second book by her, in the same week.
It has the same tone in many ways, amusedly detached, with a magical element. It’s a novel but one heavily based on Wintersons’s own life of growing up in a religious home but realizing she’s a lesbian and making a choice. In this one she does mix in fairy tale elements as an analogy for her own experiences and it works wonderfully. There is such warmth in it. It did also remind me of Giving up the ghost by Hilary Mantel which I read last year and loved, but again that was written much later.
In short; It’s been a good week of reading and I recommend both these books warmly although I’m probably the last person on earth to have read them. It’s kind of my thing now.
Things mentioned in this post;