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Written On The Body

Written On The Body [Kindle Edition]

Jeanette Winterson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Written on The Body is a tender dissection of erotic love. The prose is like a poem, lush with wit and imagery, but behind the luxuriant relish of the words, there is a scalpel-sharp cut of emotions. Love and longing are the wounds through which Winterson's imagery flows. The novel begins with regret: "Why is the measure of love loss? It hasn't rained in three months ... The grapes have withered on the vine." The narrator is also suffering from a heart-stricken drought. She is grieving for the loss of her true love, Louise.

Louise has flowing Pre-Raphaelite hair, and a body besieged by leukaemia, her cells waging war: "here they come, hurtling through the bloodstream trying to pick a fight." But Louise is not dead, merely abandoned by the narrator with the best of intentions. As the lament continues, striking in its beauty and dazzling inventiveness, more of the love story is revealed. The narrator has been a female Lothario, falling in love, and out again, swaggering like Mercutio. But then she meets Louise, married to Elgin--"very eminent, very dull, very rich"--and is hopelessly, helplessly smitten: "I didn't only want Louise's flesh, I wanted her bones, her blood, her tissues, the sinews that bound her together." Elgin persuades her to leave for the good of Louise's health, and all is undone.

Winterson does not shy away from grief, or joy. She has acutely described how love can transform a life, but also destroy it too. But, for Winterson, where there is love there is hope: "I stretch out my hand and reach the corners of the world ... I don't know if this is a happy ending but here we are let loose in open fields." Eithne Farry


"Winterson's novels are about exploding our complacent notions of the real, breaking down received ideas of gender, time and space... John Donne wrote, "Love...makes one little room, as everywhere." Winterson's novel arrives at a similar affirmation" (Time Out)

"An ambitious work, at once a love story and a philosophical meditation on the body...the result is a work that is consistently revelatory about the phenomenon of love" (New York Times Book Review)

"This book is a deep sensual plunge, a worship of the body, inside and out" (Guardian)

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 252 KB
  • Print Length: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (26 April 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099193914
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099193913
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #74,848 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful prose that stays in the mind 19 Mar 2000
By A Customer
I read this years ago knowing nothing about Jeanette Winterson and devoured it in one session. As a lesbian I identified the narrator as female and one I could really relate to. I have reread the book a number of times and find it multilayered and as beautiful as good poetry, the fact that so few things are spelt out and so much is hinted at appealed to me rather than the reverse. It is the only book of hers I love perhaps because of those things, perhaps because despite the fact she chooses not to be straightforward in style, I find so many of the things she writes about love and the experience of it deeply accurate. People are not simple and nor are lives, I found in her writing revelations on human nature that touched me, made me think hard, and ultimately changed some ignorances I had about myself forever. It is a passionate book about a passionate love and to my mind one of the most successfully done, especially in the lesbian field of literature.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of her best 29 Jun 2009
A beautifully written love story. Like other works I've read by this author, it is sometimes brilliant and sometimes less than that, but this is, for me, one of her easiest and most enjoyable novels. Much is made of the fact that we're never told if the narrator is male or female, but it could only really be a woman writing like this, which of course makes it a lesbian love affair. This is irrelevant in this book (don't bother buying this if you're looking for steamy lesbian sex) but I do sometimes wonder why such a high percentage of good writers just happen to be lesbians.

Well let's just be grateful for what they write. Jeanette Winterson is one of the best writers around today, and this is one of her best books.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars self-indulgent 23 Aug 2009
I actually enjoyed this book but I felt that the writer was incredibly self-indulgent and a little pretentious, despite some fabulous imagery in places. The idea was very good and the ambiguity led to some interesting reading however it all felt a little contrived and many of the passages very over-worked.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book on the meaning of love. 18 April 2000
By A Customer
This is absolutely my favourite book ever. I've read it 100 times, and I always find something new there. The truths Winterson writes of love have the power to make me break down in tears, and I turn to this book again and again.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written book 18 Aug 2014
This is no ordinary book. Jeanette Winterson has such an incredible mastery of the English language that it takes your breath away, and as an aspiring writer it makes me feel that I should throw the towel in right now and stop being such a twat!

The story revolves around the recollections of an ultimately tragic love affair with a woman called Louise. The narrator recounts the unfolding events and how they have compared with those of previous lovers. The narrative is supported by vivid descriptions and musings on the nature of love and relationships (as well as a hundred other things), all deftly condensed into surprisingly few words. There is for example a discussion on the fortunes and misfortunes of marriage, and another on reasons why people fall out of love.

You need an open, tolerant mind to read the book, the explicit sex and colourful language are uncompromising. And although the narrator is ungendered it soon becomes obvious that he/she is a woman; at one point "she" recalls dancing with a previous girlfriend "sealed like a pair of 50s homosexuals", and later on another aquaintance called Gail instinctively assumes that the narrator's lover would be a man.

The main thrust of the book is to convey the feelings and self-examination that come from being totally consumed with love for another person, and there are evocative passages full of tenderness and longing. The book's title is contained in one such passage. Another memorable one is "Louise let me sail with you over these spirited waves. I have the hope of a saint in a coracle." There are also some moments of almost accidental hilarity, "I had a girlfriend once who could only achieve orgasm between the hours of two and five o'clock".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The language of love 29 July 2011
By Lights
Written on the Body is the fourth book by Jeannette Winterson. It is written in first person by a narrator whose name, gender and age are never revealed to us. The narrator is in love with a woman called Louise who is married to a cancer researcher, and the book is about the narrator's love and loss of Louise, and their story.

When she falls prey to cancer herself, the narrator chooses to forsake their love in favour of Louise's life, as they believe that only her husband can save her. Since they have been separated however the narrator finds it too much to bear and yearns to have Louise back in her life- however she has since moved away and there is no way of finding her or even knowing whether or not she is still alive. The story is therefore based around the couple's past and the narrator's reflections on it.

It's hard to read this book without imagining a gender for the narrator, particularly as s/he has such a strong 'voice'. I found it really interesting to have this challenge while reading; Winterson has written this book in such a way that forces the reader out of their expectations about gender stereotypes.

The genre of this book is also hard to tie down. It is clearly a love story and has elements of romance, but it is also about loss and grief, and the pleasure and the pain of being in love.

The language use in Written on the Body is very unique: Winterson uses incredibly lyrical, beautiful phrases to tell her story. This is a very original work, and a powerful love story told by a strong literary voice. I'm not sure it's for everyone, but I found it fascinating, provoking, and also very touching. It is nothing like Winterson's other works, so I recommend approaching it with an open mind to really understand what the book is about.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Winterson's best work
This is my favorite book in the world and one of the only books that I've read twice (and will probably read again). Read more
Published 18 days ago by og505
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm happy with the book
Despite the fact that the book was a little bit old, it was good quality, it arrived on time. Everything was ok.
Published 6 months ago by Mary
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book
While it's very experimental, its an amazing read. It raises so many questions for the reader; its definitely powerful. Read more
Published 7 months ago by banks10
4.0 out of 5 stars Would recommend :)
Condition of book as described and at a good price. Another beauty of work by Jeanette Winterson would recommend buying alongside The Stone Gods .
Published 12 months ago by Marie
5.0 out of 5 stars Written on the Body, a beautiful book
A friend recommended this book, and I'm delighted with it. It is beautifully written, and will make the perfect gift for a friend, at which time I will certainly buy this for her.
Published 13 months ago by Sandra
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense
I went at this book enthusiastically because I heard it was written in the second person, and that intrigued me. I wasn't expecting to find such beautiful love poetry. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Natasha Holme
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
it is a very good book and be prepared to learn about yourself it is better to read in sequence
Published 16 months ago by amber
5.0 out of 5 stars Jeanette Winterson writes my heart and soul.
I have never read anything as beautiful as this book. Not only the story, but the writing of it. This will be my desert island book. I shall read it over and over. Read more
Published 16 months ago by altosruleok
5.0 out of 5 stars Love is physical, not just mental
Louise leaves her husband but when she finds she has cancer, she leaves her new lover too. Written on the Body is a journey of self-discovery made through the metaphors of desire... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Mr. D. P. Jay
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting, strange, and thought provoking.
We are sucked into the world of the narrator - but we never really learn who the narrator is. Man? Woman? Read more
Published 17 months ago by nbx88
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