Evidently, making my way through the Books and Tea challenge was slow progress, but Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson was my fifth title. I selected it as my ‘Full of Pride‘ option, as she is an openly homosexual woman, whose writings have explored sexuality and gender.
Related: New year, New Challenges
The blurb of my copy of Written on the Body is non-existent, so I was having to approach it essentially blind. I wasn’t sure what to expect from it, but by flicking through the pages, I could see sections towards the end of the book with the headings of body parts. It truly made me wonder where on Earth the book was going.
Written on the Body was actually quite a thrilling love story. It begins with the female narrator speaking to an unknown character, reminiscing on their past together, interspersed with reflections on experiences with her previous lovers. Winterson maintains a monologue style of narration, but also includes some alterations to the form and structure: in one section, a memory is presented as a dramatic script. These choices maintain intrigue through the opening section, as readers slowly put pieces together and decipher who the narrator is talking (and she is talking, not writing) about.
Ultimately, it’s Louise, a sexy and fascinating redhead, who we realise is the subject of the narrator’s affections. Thus the story properly starts – an engaging narrative of homoerotic desire, adultery, love, and loss.
As I noted earlier, the second part of the novel is broken into sections, where the narrator focuses on the body parts of her love. Here Winterson somehow expertly depicts a woman’s sexual passion and desire for an individual, while also presenting love through the concept of mortality and death. I easily drew parallels between the novel and Carol Ann Duffy’s Rapture collection – a bit saucy; a bit morbid.
Although the novel is a little vague – especially the ending – and a little abstract in comparison to other novels I read this year, I actually really enjoyed it. Definite recommendation.