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Why be Happy When You Could be Normal?

Why be Happy When You Could be Normal?

Hardback Jonathan Cape

By (author) Jeanette Winterson

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  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd
  • Format: Hardback | 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 144mm x 218mm x 30mm | 422g
  • Publication date: 1 November 2011
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0224093452
  • ISBN 13: 9780224093453
  • Sales rank: 10,379

Product description

In 1985 Jeanette Winterson's first novel, "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit", was published. It tells the story of a young girl adopted by Pentecostal parents. The girl is supposed to grow up and be a missionary. Instead she falls in love with a woman. Disaster. Written when Jeanette was only twenty-five, her novel went on to win the Whitbread First Novel award, become an international bestseller and inspire an award-winning BBC television adaptation. "Oranges" was semi-autobiographical. Mrs Winterson, a thwarted giantess, loomed over that novel and its author's life. When Jeanette finally left her home, at sixteen, 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 a book full of stories: about a girl locked out of her home, sitting on the doorstep all night; about a tyrant in place of a mother, who has two sets of false teeth and a revolver in the duster drawer, waiting for Armageddon; about growing up in an northern industrial town now changed beyond recognition, part of a community now vanished; and, about the Universe as a Cosmic Dustbin. It is the story of how the painful past Jeanette Winterson thought she had written over and repainted returned to haunt her later life, and sent 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. Funny, acute, fierce and celebratory, this is a tough-minded search for belonging, for love, an identity, a home, and a mother.

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Author information

Jeanette Winterson OBE is the author of ten novels, including The Passion, Sexing the Cherry and Written on the Body, a book of short stories, The World and Other Places, a collection of essays, Art Objects as well as many other works, including children's books, screenplays and journalism. Her writing has won the Whitbread Award for Best First Novel, the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize, the E. M. Forster Award and the Prix d'argent at Cannes Film Festival. Visit her website at www.jeanettewinterson.com

Review quote

"Unforgettable... It's the best book I have ever read about the cost of growing up." -- Daisy Goodwin Sunday Times "The prose is breathtaking: witty, biblical, chatty and vigorous all at once. She defines the pursuit of happiness not as being content (which is "fleeting" and "a bit bovine"), but as the impulse to "swim upstream", the search for a meaningful life. This breathless, powerful book is that search" -- Emily Strokes Financial Times "Vivid, unpredictable, and sometimes mind-rattling memoir... This book... which had been funny enough to make me laugh out loud more times than is advisable on the No 12 bus - turns into something raw and unnerving." -- Julie Myerson The Observer "This is certainly the most moving book of Winterson's I have ever read... but it wriggles with humour... At one point I was crying so much I had tears in my ears. There is much here that is impressive, but what I find most unusual about it is the way it deepens one's sympathy, for everyone involved." -- Zoe Williams The Guardian "In the 26 years since the publication of her highly acclaimed first novel, Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson has proved herself a writer of startling invention, originality and style. Her combination of the magical and the earthy, the rapturous and the matter-of-fact, is unique. It is a strange and felicitous gift, as if the best of Gabriel Garcia Marquez was combined with the best of Alan Bennett... This remarkable account is, among other things, a powerful argument for reading... This memoir is brave and beautiful, a testament to the forces of intelligence, heart and imagination. It is a marvellous book and generous one." -- Cressida Connolly The Speactator