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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
The Passion by Jeanette Winterson 
29th-Aug-2006 02:30 pm
So frustrating. I almost like her writing...but not quite.

Winterson, Jeanette. The Passion. 1987. New York: Grove, 2000.
Summary: Henri, Napoleon's private cook, and Villanelle, the web-footed daughter of a Venetian boatman meet during the zero winter in Russia and form a bond of sorts. Henri falls in love with Villanelle, but her heart has already been lost to another woman, and he is eventually sent to the madhouse for killing her husband, who was also Napoleon's cook before him.
Comments: A relatively straightforward narrative with a historic setting and a touch of magic written primarily in short, declarative sentences would've made this novel a get piece of young adult fiction...if it weren't for Winterson's "passion" for pretentiousness. Her evangelical background makes her interested in religion, and there's plenty of it here, in spite of the basic love story plotting, and her lesbianism apparently makes her interested in the whys and wherefores of sexual attraction. Conflating the two, and spicing it all up with some maundering about time and death, in her mind (and ONLY her mind) constitutes a theme that would be ridiculous if it weren't reiterated so frequently as to become simply irritating. Too bad she's so preoccupied with high-seriousness. If she weren't, she could quite easily be another Tanith Lee.
Notes: trade paperback, 5th printing
Rating: 5/10 - Too scattershot to truly satisfy any one potential niche audience. In reaching for everything, this novel ends up empty-handed.
30th-Aug-2006 01:09 am (UTC)
At the rate you're going, you'll soon end up like me - owning practically everything she ever wrote, and barely even liking one or two of them!
30th-Aug-2006 10:56 am (UTC)
Hope springs eternal!!!!!

*sighs* Well, I seem to be liking later endeavors in increasing increments, so maybe I should try some of her more recent work...
30th-Aug-2006 08:19 am (UTC)
Heh, I read this review the same day I also run into a profile of Winterson noting that her latest book is a YA novel.

Passion is the only Winterson novel I've read aside from Oranges. Neither really worked for me, so I gave up on Winterson.
30th-Aug-2006 10:59 am (UTC)
*nods* I saw Tanglewreck on the bookstore pile the other day. Really doesn't surprise me since I've felt that since Oranges she's had a hankering for fairy tales and the like.

Incidentally, I liked Sexing the Cherry more than either The Passion or Oranges. At least that one was weird with conviction. Makes me suspect that I might like her recent work more.
31st-Aug-2006 12:27 am (UTC)
Interesting. I think I purchased a copy of Sexing the Cherry but ended up donating it to a LGBT cultural foundation's booksale after I decided that Winterson's writing didn't really work for me.
1st-Sep-2006 05:20 am (UTC)
Review archived.
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