Reviews

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

"What would it have meant to be happy? What would it have meant if things had been bright, clear, good between us?" Winterson (Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit) asks of her relationship with her adoptive mother, questions that haunt this raw memoir to its final pages. Winterson first finds solace in the Accrington Public Library in Lancashire, where she stumbles across T.S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral and begins to cry: "the unfamiliar and beautiful play made things bearable that day." She is asked to leave the library for crying and sits on the steps in "the usual northern gale" to finish the book. The rest is history. Highly improbably for a woman of her class, she gets into Oxford and goes on to have a very successful literary career. But she finds that literature-and literary success-can only fulfill so much in her. There's another ingredient missing: love. The latter part of the book concerns itself with this quest, in which Winterson learns that the problem is not so much being gay (for which her mother tells her "you'll be in Hell") as it is in the complex nature of how to love anyone when one has only known perverse love as a child. This is a highly unusual, scrupulously honest, and endearing memoir. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* Winterson's volatile and eccentrically devout adoptive mother was apocalyptic by nature. In self-defense, as we learn in this galvanizing memoir and testimony to the healing properties of creativity, Winterson took shelter in the library, discovering in poetry and fiction language powerful enough to say how it is. After she acquired some books of her own, only to have her ogre of a mother burn them, Winterson summoned her resolve: Fuck it,' I thought, I can write my own.' She was similarly stoic when her mother caught her in bed with another girl and arranged for an exorcism that turned sexually abusive. Winterson fled her bleak Lancashire home at 16, got herself to Oxford, and wrote her first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1985), which became a beacon in gay culture. Drawing on her cartwheel imagination and piercing worldview, Winterson wrote a dozen more books (Sexing the Cherry, 1990; The Stone Gods, 2008) to resounding acclaim. But her long-submerged anguish finally boiled up, leading to a breakdown, an unnerving search for her birth mother, and an all-out struggle to understand what it is to love and be loved. Clarion, courageous, and vividly expressive, Winterson conducts a dramatic and revelatory inquiry into the forging of the self and the liberating power of literature.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

"What would it have meant to be happy? What would it have meant if things had been bright, clear, good between us?" Winterson (Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit) asks of her relationship with her adoptive mother, questions that haunt this raw memoir to its final pages. Winterson first finds solace in the Accrington Public Library in Lancashire, where she stumbles across T.S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral and begins to cry: "the unfamiliar and beautiful play made things bearable that day." She is asked to leave the library for crying and sits on the steps in "the usual northern gale" to finish the book. The rest is history. Highly improbably for a woman of her class, she gets into Oxford and goes on to have a very successful literary career. But she finds that literature-and literary success-can only fulfill so much in her. There's another ingredient missing: love. The latter part of the book concerns itself with this quest, in which Winterson learns that the problem is not so much being gay (for which her mother tells her "you'll be in Hell") as it is in the complex nature of how to love anyone when one has only known perverse love as a child. This is a highly unusual, scrupulously honest, and endearing memoir. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.