Thursday, December 22, 2011

Why be Happy when you could be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

This was a stunningly good book, written with an honesty that is at times nothing short of searing.
Jeanette Winterson is a very well known British writer who has won numerous prizes and contributed great to the reading lives of her many fans.She is best known for her book Oranges are not the only Fruit which was published to much acclaim,transferred very successfully to the screen and it was semi autobiographical, it caused a stir!
Jeanette was adopted out by her biological mother to a supposedly respectable Pentecostal couple who ideally would provide her with a stable environment that would cause her to flourish and hopefully grow up to be a Missionary... although not all adoptees would have parental aspirations of a similar ilk.
Mrs Winterson however was not normal, not average and not particularly sane. A religious obsessive with a bent for the more gloomier aspects of biblical philosophy she waited endlessly for Armageddon and kept a revolver in a drawer. Her daughter she decided was not up to snuff and her life was made into a living hell, no denouement was spared, the working class life the family lead would not cause her to flourish within or without the family home. When Jeanette announced that she felt she would always love women her mother asked her the question that is the books title.The early signs were there and when caught with another teenage girl an exorcism was performed.
Was Mrs Winterson proud of Jeanette's success, no she wasn`t, it was she said with horror the first time she had had to order a book using a false name.
An immense love of words saved Janette, studying at Oxford empowered her and took her along the path that she needed to traverse to become the writer she is.
Like many people who came from dysfunctional families Jeanette felt that she had written over the worst of it but she had not and this lead to her own madness and her eventual meeting with her Birth Mother after a convoluted search for her Mother.
Jeanette's story while being made extreme by Mrs Winterson and living in Winterson-World, shows very clearly how we all need to be loved and wanted, how we all need to know where we fit or belong.
This book is not just doom and gloom however, the wit and humour are gorgeous and it is so funny in parts that you will laugh out loud.
Brave, courageous and above all a writer who draws such vivid pictures with words that lead you too share her journey in all its drabness, heartbreak, madness, love, compassion, success and fun.
Keep close to your heart Jeanette's saying that fiction and poetry can form a string of guiding lights, a life raft that can support us when we feel we are sinking. Again the power of words to be so much than just text on a page is life changing.
A wonderful, wonderful easy to read, you will think about it long after you turn the last page.
Available at all good booksellers, you would very likely find it at Unity Books in High Street.

No comments: