The PowerBook
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The PowerBook

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  2,908 ratings  ·  164 reviews
While many other novels are still nursing hangovers from the 20th century, The PowerBook has risen early to greet the challenge of the new millennium. Set in cyberspace, Jeanette Winterson's seventh novel (or eighth, if you count her disowned Boating for Beginners) travels with ease, casting the net of its love story over Paris, Capri, and London. Its interactive narrator,...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 24th 2000 by Knopf (first published 2000)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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selena
I read Winterson’s Written on the Body a few years ago and have never read a novel since that better depicted love. I should have known that it would be a novel written by Winterson herself that would rival my first foray into her work.

The Powerbook explores love, sexuality and gender. This is the theme of many of Winterson’s novels – and one that greatly intrigues me. Is sexuality masculine or feminine? Does the ambiguity of a partner’s sex change the love or physical boundaries between them?

Wh...more
Af
Full of fairly meaningless wannabe aphorisms (see gobbits of Wilde, minus the wit). Example: "everything done with effort is beautiful. Nothing effortless is beautiful" (better put in her version, but nonetheless void of meaning). You can see what she was trying to do, both from the book and from what she's said in interviews - be very very modern, have a book without a story, composed principally of emotions (she succeeds here - there's very little intellect between these covers) and full of te...more
Peter
The book is about love, myth and stories. Interactive stories written between Ali, the writer, and her lover, a married lady who she meets online every night. Together they are writing the story of their courtship, or is it mostly Ali?

I loved this book. The prose is sparse but it's beautifully written, like poetry, and the descriptions of Paris, Capri and London are almost like walking in these places on a summer's evening. There is the stylised dialogue and sparring wordplay between the lovers,...more
snowplum
Jeanette Winterson is someone who can write sentences/paragraphs/passages that absolutely rock my world, yet she consistently fails to write a novel that I love in its entirety. It's incredibly frustrating. I would say in general you'd like this novel LESS the more of her books you've read, because yet again she's taking on the subject of being in love with a married woman, and this isn't even the best time around for that plot from her. If, however, you haven't read many of her books, this is a...more
Carolyn Jacobson
I got caught up in some of the stories, but it was all against my basic inclination. I didn't like this book.

I resisted the whole powerbook idea. It felt like it was trying too hard to be clever and exotic. (And the language of computer prompts and commands stopped being exotic a while ago.) (And we don't unwrap emails. We just don't.)

I have liked some books that continually gesture towards the ideal or towards a series of generalized beliefs about love and life (although it's not my preference...more
JG (The Introverted Reader)
Okay, it's been a few years since I read this, so I'm a little fuzzy on details. The way I remember it, the narrator is someone who writes love stories for other people to give to the ones they love. Then it seems like the narrator starts to fall in love with one of the people the story is intended for. But all of that is really just secondary. What I really enjoyed (and what was really the focus of the book) were all the different love stories and all the different ways the narrator found to po...more
martha
Wanted to be able to read in public without flashing around Expensive Technology, in the form of my Kindle. Went to a bookstore here in Kampala and chose an armful of books nearly entirely at random, without being able to look up any goodreads or Amazon ratings with my phone, like it was 2005 or something. It was kind of great.

I did not love this; the meta story had the kind of cold distance that reminds me of Calvino or other writers of postmodern parables and whatnot. Also the long stretches o...more
Michelle
There were many aspects of this book that I found intriguing and engaging. Perhaps one that is worth mentioning is how the story keeps shifting. First we read about the storyteller, then we see it as the character of a story being written, then as the person whom the story is directed to. Again and again we are given different perspectives to ponder, different characters to emphatize with, different roles to play. We are constantly transported to different worlds and realms, moving back and fort...more
Peter Chandler
There is perhaps a certain irony that I read this today, outside of my literature course, partly out of a desire of reading something that I didn't have to write an essay on when I had finished, and now I'm writing a little essay on it. But anyways....

Jeanette Winterson's prose remains ever a beautiful and lyrical thing. Her evocations of thought and feeling really enfold you and draw you into the characters and her decriptive writing sets the scenes with sublime details. This is certainly a bea...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Loved, adored, I want to dream in this book.

"Inside her marriage there were too many clocks and not enough time. Too much furniture and too little space. Outside her marriage, there would be nothing to hold her, nothing to shape her. The space she found would be outer space. Space without gravity or weight, where bit by bit the self disintegrates."

"Night. I logged on to the Net. There were no e-mails for me. You had run out on the story. Run out on me. Vanished.... Nothing. Here I am like a peni...more
Mary Anne
After reading ,The Passion by this author, I was expecting something a bit more significant. But alas, it was not to be. A clever idea, though.

In online chat rooms, people take on alternate personas. This is about someone who helps others do that and who develop the story that goes with it. The story here is about two women who become lovers as a result. There are other stories sprinkled it. The book begins with Ali, who smuggles the first tulips to Holland from Turkey, bound to herself as balls...more
Cheyenne Blue
The short review is that I adore this book. Its meandering prose sucked me in early on and didn't let up until I'd turned the last page.

Alix writes stories on the web for people who want to live those stories for a night. Woven around these stories is her love affair with a married woman. Their story moves through Turkey, Paris, London, past, present and future.

I wrote a blog post about this book. Since writing that about the love letter written by a past owner of this copy on the inside of the...more
Andreea
This is the book that every teenage girl wants to write.

Okay - maybe not, this is just the book that I wish I were talented and driven enough to write when I was 15. It's all clever and full of Talmud references and interesting tid bits of history and rewritings of well known stories and lost love and longing. And it would all have been great if this were a book that I wrote when I was 15, but it's not - it annoys me when my 15 year old romanticizing smarty pants self comes out in my thinking /...more
Bryn
Jul 26, 2010 Bryn rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bryn by: Martin Pearson
This is a beautiful, poetic book, full of stories that relate to each other, and tell a larger tale. It's also a book about resisting narrative conventions, which as a writer, I found fascinating. People who like straightforward plot and coherrence might find this a challenging read, but if you are happy with something less clear and linnear, and enjoy beautiful prose and deep introspection, give it a try. I thought it was exquisite. It's a small, intricately cut gem, its facets reflecting aspec...more
Zem Chance
Jan 18, 2008 Zem Chance rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: you. thinking about love?
Recommended to Zem by: Laura
I wonder, sometimes, about Winterson's definition of love. It seems that it must be intense/tragic/tragically intense to be of any merit. The Powerbook contains common Winterson themes--passion, boundaries, mythology--and moves them through cyber-space into real time--which is always shifting. The relationships are queer, but the challenges to those relationships are universal--most notably, the choice of passion or stability.
I wonder what would happen if Winterson wrote about polyamory.
Jeanette (jema)
I actually had a review here but GR ate it.
So in short: some nice stories, some nice quotes but a bit repetitious and the technology makes the novel feel dated even though it is just a decade old.
I can't help thinking that Winterson is writing her story over and over, it's a good story but I like her more when she is actually autobiographical or pure whimsy.
Will
I saw this as a play in an experimental theater in London. The play was fucking genius and rocked my 20 year old world. The book I read much later and, while very good, didn't move me the way that play did. I guess I was hoping to recapture the awe of seeing it on the stage off on my own in a country not my own. I doubt it could have ever compared.
Candice
I zipped through this book rather quickly. It has its moments but I cannot take seriously the combination of Y2k terminology and sappy, poetic sentences about love and longing. I both love Jeanette Winterson's use of language and pity her characters' blind romanticism.

I would NOT recommend this book to a first-time Winterson reader.
Sera
You can't get into a Winterson novel easily but there is something about her style that makes you speechless. She really touches your soul with poetic language and poignant stories inside stories. Not to mention her thought-provoking questioning of sexes and love.
Mirte
This is one of these books that completely suck you in. Not because you want to know what happens next, but because the language is so beautiful and the sentences pick you up and carry you along. The PowerBook is about stories, storytelling, love and the past and how all these things shape our identity. Winterson, as always, manages to speak of these issues in a fictional world, in a smooth style, and the emotions on the page became tangible to me throughout the reading process. Wonderful book t...more
Christy Stewart
Contrived or not, Winterson's writing is poetic and fun to read.

My favorite line: Meatspace still has some advantages for a carbon-based girl.
Holly
this book is like a caricature of a jeanette winterson book. don't waste your time.
Laura
Ever come across a book so beautifully written it's almost painful to read? Every time I read Jeanette Winterson's The Powerbook I feel like I've been punched in the stomach, and when I finish reading, I feel quite lonely for a while.

The Powerbook was the first thing I'd ever read by Winterson - it was part of the reading material on one of my English Lit modules at University, and I'll admit that I was feeling preeeetty dubious about it initially, as I'd not really felt too enthusiastic about...more
Suzanne
This is the first Winterson novel I ever read... almost a decade ago. It was mysterious to me then, intriguing, and while it makes a bit more "sense" to me now, it is no less magical.

"I cannot give my position accurately. The coordinates shift. I cannot say, 'Where,' I can only say, 'Here,' and hope to describe it to you, atom and dream."

This quote pretty much sums it all up for me, and by "it" I mean not only this book but Life in general. And Writing. And that's just one of my 23 dog ears. No...more
Ricardo Alfonso
It was inevitable that after the rise of the Internet, an entire swath of books would bubble out of the cracks of intrigue that such a revolutionary new technology would create. Some are good, some are bad. One of the good ones is "The Powerbook."

The main plot, which actually forms the undercurrent of the novel rather than a main narrative, concerns a woman named Ali who resides online in chat rooms and writes stories for whomever wants them. The person who wants the stories told is a creepy fig...more
Linda C.
I picked up this book during a vacation to Key West a couple years ago. I'd found my way into an old book store in town, stuffed to the rafters with new and used books. Tables, shelves and racks overflowing with something to delight anyone. A book addict's dream come true!
I found this book tucked away on shelf in the back of the store. At eye level showing pinks and reds on the spine, I removed it from it's space. I was intrigued by the title and the description of 'computers meet human beings'...more
Mireille Rosello
"Are you usually so friendly with strangers?"
"Always"
"Any particular reason?"
"A stranger is a safe place. You can tell a stranger anything."
"Suppose I put it in my book?"
"You write fiction."
"So?"
"So you won't lash me to the facts."


"You're the writer."
"It's your story."
'What happened to the omniscient author?"
"Gone interactive." (31)

"In the Grail legends Lancelot, the best knight in the world, never does see the Grail because he cannot give up his love for Guinevere. As a moral essay this suggest...more
okyrhoe
I have a mixed response to this novel. I wanted to like it overall, because time and time again I would stop to reflect on a phrase that impressed me. But....I expected more in terms of its content and structure.
I did not sense that the narrative's analogy with the Apple Powerbook has been fully developed, thematically speaking. The chapter/segment headings parallel the Apple OS menu commands, but that's basically it. From the publicity material I assumed that the novel has been written in such...more
Jessica Tocque
Jeanette Winterson’s The PowerBook is a revolutionary idea that has never been done before. I had to read this for my Postmodernism unit for my 20th Century Texts module. The prose is beautiful, glorious and refreshing, it’s magical, and nothing like anything I’ve ever read before.
The way the book is set out is what catches your eye first. The PowerBook is all one word, separating the grammatical error by capitalising the word book, like that of Apple’s MacBook, which The PowerBook is hinting at...more
Peter Chandler
There is perhaps a certain irony that I read this today, outside of my literature course, partly out of a desire of reading something that I didn't have to write an essay on when I had finished, and now I'm writing a little essay on it. But anyways....

Jeanette Winterson's prose remains ever a beautiful and lyrical thing. Her evocations of thought and feeling really enfold you and draw you into the characters and her decriptive writing sets the scenes with sublime details. This is certainly a bea...more
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Novelist Jeanette Winterson was born in Manchester, England in 1959. She was adopted and brought up in Accrington, Lancashire, in the north of England. Her strict Pentecostal Evangelist upbringing provides the background to her acclaimed first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, published in 1985. She graduated from St Catherine's College, Oxford, and moved to London where she worked as an assi...more
More about Jeanette Winterson...
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit Written on the Body Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? The Passion Sexing the Cherry

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“What a strange world this is when you can have as much sex as you like but love is taboo.” 112 likes
“The body can endure compromise and the mind can be seduced by it. Only the heart protests. The heart. Carbon-based primitive in a silicon world.” 54 likes
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