Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson

written-on-the-bodyTitle: Written on the Body
Author: Jeanette Winterson
Pages: 190
Year: 1994
Publisher: Vintage (Knopf)
Time taken to read: 5 days
Rating: 2/5

Goodreads synopsisThe most beguilingly seductive novel to date from the author of The Passion and Sexing the Cherry. Winterson chronicles the consuming affair between the narrator, who is given neither name nor gender, and the beloved, a complex and confused married woman. “At once a love story and a philosophical meditation.”–New York Times Book Review.

I should start by saying I didn’t choose to read this book, it was assigned to me for a class called “contemporary British literature”. My professor is very into feminism and LGBT issues, which I am too for sure, but for some reason she and I just really don’t get along.

I’m giving this book two out of five stars because it isn’t horrible. I didn’t hate reading it, but I didn’t particularly enjoy it either, and I would not have read past the first page if I wasn’t assigned it. This book was just weird. It’s written in prose but it reads like poetry (and disobeys standard grammar rules like poetry). The middle of the book has a clear plot. Girl likes other girl, girl can’t have other girl, girl is sad. But the beginning and ending made no sense. It started off really poetic, then became a real book, then turned poetic again, so I’m not really sure if they ended up together at the end or not, to be honest. I sort of hope they didn’t, because I think the main character (who goes nameless) is a bitch. In fact, whoever owned this book before me made notes in it directed to the main character, my favorite being, “Why don’t you let her decide, you shit.” I feel similarly. I think she shouldn’t have gotten herself involved with a married woman in the first place, as I have no sympathy for cheaters and home-wreckers. And it’s very hard to enjoy a book when you dislike the main character.

And the endless metaphors and similes. That killed me. “My lover is an olive tree,” she says on page 137. Or a mountain. Or a dove. Or a black hole or a sunset or any other cliché romantic image that you can come up with. She uses them all, and it’s exhausting. It feels cheap.
I’d tell you to read this book if you’re a hopeless romantic who sings to birds in the morning and whose life is a perpetual honeymoon phase, and also if you like lesbian sex.


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