Shortlisted for: UK Author of the year - Specsavers National Book Awards 2012
When Jeanette Winterson, author of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, left home at 16 because she was in love with a woman, Mrs. Winterson asked her: "Why be happy when you could be normal?" This book is the story of a life's work to find happiness. It is the story of how the painful past returned to haunt Jeanette's later life, and send her on a journey into madness and out again, in search of her real mother. It is also a book about other people's stories, showing how fiction and poetry can form a string of guiding lights, a life raft which supports us when we are sinking.
©2011 Jeannette Winterson (P)2012 AudioGO Ltd
Like many people my age (about the same age as Jeanette Winterson), I read 'Oranges' when it was first published all those years ago, and loved it. But somehow read no more of Ms Winterson's output until I picked up "Why Be Happy" after seeing the TV programme with Alan Yentob, the other week.
I was not disappointed. Loved it, in fact. Better still, reading it has made me want to go out and read Ms Winterson's other books. She paints a complex picture of the redoubtable Mrs W, highlighting the fact she may not have even had the writing career she went on to have without Mrs W's monstrous creation - of herself. And ultimately, there is a touching, strange loyalty to Mrs W. This book has maturity and complexity, and tries to blur the line between fiction and autobiography - something touching about the fact the writer wants to do that, too.
I normally stick to meaty slabs of books on Audible that give value for money, so it says something for the power of the writer and writing here, that I spent my money on something slighter (I mean physically not a mighty tome, as opposed to slight in content, as it is not at all sketchy).
Great book; an insight into what makes a writer, and how we construct our identities. This is that rare thing; a book that stays with you, always.
This was a moving account of an indomitable and spirited individual, whose childhood shaped her for both better and for worse. I have never been drawn to the author's fiction, but this biography is worth reading for several reasons. Firstly, it is well written and well read, by the author. Secondly, it gives poignant insights into a particular northern lifestyle of the fifties and sixties, one where the values and norms of the day seem like a distant history lesson. And, thirdly, it is entertaining. I found the non-linear style different to most autobiographies, but it worked quite well and covered up for omissions of quite large periods of Janette's life. It was a little as if she was pulling jigsaw pieces out of a bag and showing you them. Some pieces of the picture joined up, some bits came together at different times. And in some places there were holes that were never filled in. She has kept some pieces of the jigsaw in the bag, perhaps she will reveal them later.
If you like reading biographies, then you are likely to like this one.
I loved listening to Jeanette telling her own story. She has a really interesting regional accent mixed with a more southern clipped vowels. I would say that there was a heavier emphasis on philosophy and a lot more musing - if you're expecting a 'what happened next' you will be disappointed.
This carries you along with speed. It has dramatic eloquence and is poignant as well as passionate. Not for the faint hearted, although searingly it inspires optimism. I found myself crying out to someone the other day "I want to be happy not normal." This account has made the clearest case for a creative response to oppression!
This is an interesting sequel to "Oranges are not the only fruit" and at times is equally hilarious. The author has the capacity to portray a quite appalling childhood and sequaelae without self pity, and in such a way that you begin to understand the troubled personalities of her adoptive parents. It is a book about what shaped today's society, and a stark reminder that "normal" can be barking mad. Well worth a read, and quite inspirational, whatever you gender, sexual preferences or state of sanity!
I struggled with 'Oranges' and had heard of some of JW other works and always intended to return to it/them. I decided to give this a listen and I am so glad I did, she's has had an interesting life and has a fantastic and honest view of life which was refreshing and gave me cause to reflect on my own ways of thinking - something I like to come out of reading a book but is a rare thing. It also peaked my interest in her other books and in a way eased me into her writing style as well as making me more willing to work with it now I have an understanding of it.
This is an honest and forthright account of Jeanette's life, her childhood and her eventual search for her birth mother. Some of the incidents, such as being put out on the doorstep were not unusual when I was growing up, so I related to the matter of fact way she related these childhood experiences. I tend to listen to books while in my car, this one, I listened to at every opportunity. I'd not seen or read 'Oranges', although I had heard of it. It's now on my list of things to read/watch at the next opportunity. Jeanette is a brave woman who has done much to promote the emancipation of women, and this book illustrates the pathway that led her there.
I dont know what attracted me to buying this book !!, I'd never even heard of Jeanette befor. However, what a BRILLIANT, BRILLIANT read. This is a very, different read which flows from an extreemly difficult childhood biography into a search for her birth parents. I really must find some more of Jeanette's stuff, especially 'Oranges'.
Jeanette Winterson has done it again (!!) But this time with story telling hard to believe is possible. For me, this book is a masterpiece. I loved every minute of it and went through it 3 times. twice on audio and once in the written format. Almost every word, every wonderfully weaved story; revealing events of Jeanette's life, touched me in so many ways. Her observations of life, psychology and experiences are brought together here, in this intellectually satisfying and enjoyable book. Tribute to J Winterson - superb writer.
I was shocked about the history of JW's upbringing. I am aware adoption has changed more over the last ~15-20 years, but what an eye opener this is. A splendid heart-wrenching read to encourage the reader to try and take control, follow your dreams and never give up.
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