Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book is a conundrum to me. It is beautifully written. It is more prose poem than novel. Calling this a novel did it a great disservice in my mind.
Passages and passages of powerful, beautiful imagery. In terms of exploration of the nature of love, relationships, self and time, this book earns 5 stars.
In terms of actually pulling all of those things into a cohesive and assessable story or book, it falls short. I often had the feeling this book grew out of an series of writing exercises. In some parts of the work, it is very tight, frames well and there are a number of "tricks" which seem to work well, only to be abandoned.
I also think that the addition of the last quarter of this book, does it a great disservice. I could have been happy without the "Sometime Later" section. Ending the book on page 124, I think does actually tie together a number of the loose ends, not neatly, but then there is nothing neat and tidy about this book, not in style, execution, exploration or point of view.
But the final passages on pages 123, 124 really, I think answer alot of the linger questions - for both narrators. For me - it brought me to place of peace and place to think and acceptance.
I think the "Sometime Later" section works. It does not work at the end of this book, even though some of the ladies in my book club felt it did work. It feels contrived and it feels like it is self consciously connected dots which refused to be connected in other sections of the book.
I think the "Something Later" section, if it has to stay, would work better in the beginning. Start there and work backwards. I think it would help the reader form a story and I think it propels the plot alot better. It also I think, fits with the playing with time and exploring the realities of time and space.
All in all I am glad I stuck with this book and saw it through to the end. Had this not been the book club selection, I doubt I would have. I am glad I did and I am going to read some of her other works, if only to experience her beautiful use of language and poetic imagery.
A word to the wise, this book is not shy about sex, violence and her brand of feminism is radical, typical perhaps of the time period, but her point of view may not be widely shared.
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