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Lighthousekeeping Paperback – 5 Mar 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (3 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007181507
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007181506
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 159,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jeanette Winterson was born in Manchester and read English at Oxford, during which time she wrote her first novel, the Whitbread award winning Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit. Tanglewreck, Jeanette's first novel for children, was published to great critical acclaim in 2006. In the same year she was awarded an OBE for services to literature.

Product Description

Review

‘The importance of stories, the urge to create ourselves through stories, is one of Winterson’s abiding themes, along with the supremacy, the redemptive power of love.’ Daily Telegraph

‘A marvelously skilful juggling act of ideas and emotion … Winterson’s prodigious talent brings the book alive.’ Evening Standard

‘The power of Lighthousekeeping is in … the pared-down precision of its language, each word smoothed into a finely polished pebble.’ Observer

About the Author

Jeanette Winterson was born in Manchester in 1959. She read English at Oxford University before writing her first novel, Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, which was published in 1985.


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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Greenleaf on 29 July 2011
Format: Paperback
Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson tells the story of Silver, a young girl who is orphaned when her mother falls to her death as they climb the cliff that leads to their house. Silver moves in initially with a carer and then into the local lighthouse which is run by a man named Pew. Pew is blind but he is an excellent storyteller, and stories form the basis for their bond.

The lighthouse reflects the way Pew sees the world- in darkness: "The darkness had to be brushed away or parted before we could sit down", and also the way he finds light within that dwelling. Pew tells Silver the story of Babel Dark, a local pastor who married two women, one because he loved her and one because she was pregnant. His tale is foreboding and enchanting and Dark is revered as an almost legendary or mythical figure, however his life is based on lies and deceit and these are eventually his undoing.
Silver feeds on Pew's stories as an escape from her mother's recent death and since she has no companions besides Pew and her dog. When Pew has to leave his role as lighthousekeeper, Silver is left to fend for herself in the reality of the world and create her own stories.

Winterson's writing style in Lighthousekeeping is charmingly poetic and even lyrical at times. This is a story about stories and the importance of storytelling. This book is not an easy read as it is so rich with the nuances of storytelling, blurring fact with fiction and crossing time to bring characters from different eras to life.

Lighthousekeeping is both experimental and unusual. I felt that it slipped into the fairytale genre halfway through the book, and left a lot of its plot for the reader's imagination to unravel. It is a short read and by the end I felt nourished by its refreshing method of storytelling.
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72 of 79 people found the following review helpful By John Self on 4 May 2004
Format: Hardcover
If ever a book warranted the over-used (and usually optimistic) critical phrase "a return to form," Lighthousekeeping is it. After the brilliant but dense and closed Art & Lies (of which Winterson now says "It was written at a time when I was looking inwards, not outwards ... sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't"), the patchy Gut Symmetries and the (in my view) atrocious The PowerBook, Lighthousekeeping - supposedly the beginning of a new cycle in her writing - is a breath of sea air.
As a new cycle in her writing (she says her first seven novels were a complete cycle in themselves), it doesn't half look a lot like the old one. But this is to be expected: all writers revisit their old turf throughout their lives: as Martin Amis said when pre-empting such criticisms of Yellow Dog, "the perspective is like a shadow moving across a lawn." So Lighthousekeeping retains Winterson's abiding interest in love ("the greatest human achievement"), storytelling ("Trust me. I'm telling you stories"), the multiplicity of history, parentless children and boundaries of desire, but puts them in the service of something lighter and brighter than we have seen from her probably since Sexing the Cherry.
The story is narrated by Silver. Silver's gender remains undeclared through most of the book, as a ten-year-old child, which I thought was an echo of Written on the Body where Winterson did the same thing, although I have never been able to read the narrator there as anything other than a woman, and a Jeanette-shaped woman at that. Anyway towards the end we discover that Silver when fully grown wears a bra, so we can - probably - put paid to that theory. Silver is orphaned when her mother, roped to her to climb the slope to their home, falls.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Fiona Watson on 8 May 2009
Format: Paperback
I write this review because of the reason I read the book. I loved the book and wish I was clever enough to unwrap all its layers. I'd recommend it to any open minded adult prepared to have their prejudices about science/responsibility/love/truth/story challenged. However, I read it because Amazon listed it under books for children. In no way is this suitable for children (I was thinking 10 year olds) on so many levels they are not worth listing: I doubt if more than 10% of the adult population could make a reasonable stab at understanding it all, and the various sex scenes are arrestingly described but disquieting in their underlying values.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By LuluT on 20 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback
I absolutely adored this book. I couldn't put it down. I hadn't read JW since Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit yonks ago. It is like a fairy tale - it's mystical, it's lyrical, it's intriguing, it's inspiring, it's fantasy, it's emotional, it's funny, it's so imaginative and yet feels so true. It pulls at the heart strings of your mind. I loved Silver and her curiosity, her desire to know more, her dream of belonging. You want her to succeed. You root for her to find love and belonging. She's a wonderful character and JW is, at least with this book, a wonderful uplifting writer.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Eric Anderson on 23 Aug. 2004
Format: Hardcover
Silver is a girl born completely by chance. Her mother had a brief encounter with a sailor, leaving the penniless woman to raise the baby girl in a crooked house tipping into the sea. The house was so slanted that the family dog's legs grew irregularly and they couldn't eat any food that would roll away. Eventually Silver is taken by a hilariously prudish woman named Miss Pinch (a curiously Dickensian touch from an author who has spoken so condescendingly about the work of Sarah Waters) to live with a lighthouse keeper named Pew. From Pew she learns the art of story telling and consequently a way of finding value in her life. Because of her origins and social status Silver is viewed by people like Miss Pinch as worthless or an accident. Through the medium of story telling Silver is able to forge for herself an identity more true than any documented reality.
Interwoven with the tale of the novel's central character Silver, is the story of a priest named Babel Dark. He is a fascinatingly divided character, something Winterson has Robert Louise Stevenson cement in English literature. As always, the author's surreal nature of story telling melds with philosophical insights which have the ability to really turn our world upside down. Stunningly beautiful passages add depth to wonderfully quirky tales. Winterson always holds up the importance of storytelling in a way that is ceaselessly inventive and inspiring and makes you want to read on.
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