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Gut Symmetries

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  3,048 ratings  ·  153 reviews
(A celebration of love in all its frailty, confusion and excess. Set on board the QE2, and in New York and Liverpool, Gut Symmetries explores parallel lives, loves and universes)
Paperback, 219 pages
Published 1998 by Granta Books (first published 1997)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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ummm i love this book and am about to re-read it.

"Do you fall in love often?

Yes often. With a view, with a book, with a dog, a cat, with numbers, with friends, with complete strangers, with nothing at all. I love widely, indiscreetly. I forget it is myself I am trying to love back to a better place.

Some people dream in color, I feel in colour, strong tones that I hue down for the comfort of the pastelly inclined. Beige and magnolia and a hint of pink are what the well-decorated heart is wearing;
lori mitchell
beautifully written story about a complicated love triangle.

favorite excerpt:

"Stella turned towards me and crumpled my heart in her hand.

'Do you fall in love often?'

Yes often. With a view, with a book, with a dog, a cat, with numbers, with friends, with complete strangers, with nothing at all. There are children who grow up as I did, with the love clamped down in them, who cannot afterwards love at all. There are others who make fools of themselves, loving widely, indiscreetly, forgetting it is
Bar Shirtcliff
Feb 16, 2009 Bar Shirtcliff rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Winterson fans, spiritual athiests
The prose seemed a bit on the experimental side, and not altogether successful. Addressing the reader directly is always risky, and I guess Winterson pulls it off here about as well as it can be done - but I guess I've never understood what that is supposed to add to a work of fiction. For me, it seems to be appropriate only in self-help books, manuals, etc.

That said, if you (yes, YOU) can maintain your concentration through heaps of sometimes too-repetitive, too-silly stuff, there are some gems
To me this is a delightful montage of a menage. A physicist couple end up having separate love relationships with a poetry-inclined woman, which shakes them all up. Despite the potential for the banal, the love triangle makes for fascinating reflections by the characters on the colliding or resonating relationships between quantum physics versions of reality and their own personal perspectives. Given that the whole swath of post modernist literature and much art of the 20th Century bears footpri ...more
What can I say about Jeanette Winterson? That reading her is like watching a stone fall in a calm, clear pool. You can stay for hours just watching the resulting ripples.

The piece of Jeanette Winterson writing that I love the most is her short story The 24-Hour Dog. I read it while I was still in college and I've never forgotten it. I photocopy my photocopy and pass it on to friends.

Who wouldn't fall in love with writing like this?

If time is a river, we shall all meet death by water.


And aft
Esperimenti come quelli della doppia fenditura e del gatto di Schrödinger hanno ormai mostrato come sia incredibile la natura delle cose, come l’esistenza possa essere terribilmente indeterminabile nella sua inconfessabile e molteplice contemporaneità di nature. Cercare il bandolo della matassa, quel qualcosa che metta insieme quell’intricato ordito di paradossi che instillano mille dubbi, sembra cosa difficile. Gli scienziati cercano la Grand Unified Theory definitiva. La Winterson trova la sua ...more
Peter Chandler
Jeanette Winterson's prose is truly a sublime thing. Words of lyrical beauty that wrap themselves about you and move within you, resonant with living colour and poetic meaning. That intense beauty though does somewhat serve to render in starker contrast the one or two minor things of the book that didn't quite sit so well with me. Particularly when it comes to the (sort of) happy ending and the exceptional coincidences that may work in terms of the book are just a bit too neat, and come in too s ...more
Jul 07, 2009 Julie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Julie by: Meredith S.
One of the most lyrical prose writers to be writing. Winterson's writing is fast, rhythmic, and at the same time poetic and akin to Virginia Woolf's stream of consciousness stylings. It is delicious pleasure to read. The plot of Gut Symmetries is fascinating and gripping in the most punctually unusual but perfect way. Definitely five stars.
Peter Chandler
Jeanette Winterson's prose is truly a sublime thing. Words of lyrical beauty that wrap themselves about you and move within you, resonant with living colour and poetic meaning. That intense beauty though does somewhat serve to render in starker contrast the one or two minor things of the book that didn't quite sit so well with me. Particularly when it comes to the (sort of) happy ending and the exceptional coincidences that may work in terms of the book are just a bit too neat, and come in too s ...more
Iiris Onerva
I feel like the book only started about halfway through - as if for the first half it mainly consisted of saying "I'll tell you a story, just a minute, I'll tell you a story and it's really good and deep and stuff, trust me, I'll get to it in a minute" and then the storyteller sort of fiddled around for a hundred pages and then finally it got on with the actual story but even though it was a good story it didn't always quite meet the build-up and I have no idea why there was a build-up anyway. I ...more
Eye-opening read.

“The most interesting young writer I have read in 20 years.” - Gore Vidal

To betray with a kiss. The reek of Judas.
Nothing. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, love to love.

I come from a people to whom the invisible world is everyday present.

I can’t go back into the past and change it, but I have noticed that the future changes the past. What I call the past is my memory of it and my memory is conditioned by who I am now. Who I will be. The only way for me to handle what is happening i
A fascinating and fabulous tale of origins, of love, of the queerness of time. Winterson weaves in theories of quantum physics and particle physics, playing on the concept of wave functions and drawing on ideas of synchronicity, to tell a tale of infidelity that becomes a three way romance. The language is queer, questioning, the structure challenging and dreamlike. It is a fascinating experimental book with some laugh out loud conceptual moments. It burrows deep into the mystical psychologies o ...more
I forgot I even read this! Which says less about the quality of the book than the reliability of my memory. In any case it was not Winterson's best but still enjoyable. It has the remarkable quality of being a short book though feeling like a much longer and swirling sort of read than it is. My only regret was that I sometimes got lost in the physics-talk, did not particularly engage with Jove's or Stella's back-story, and wished only for more Alice & Stella, because of course, I'm like that ...more
This is an intriguing novel in the sense that it often reads as a quantum physics text but always in the service of a larger romantic agenda. If understanding the connection between gravity and love isn't your thang, I'd suggest looking elsewhere. That said, Winterson throws some quality quotes in there that would look good on your fridge or facebook, and this was my main source of enjoyment.

If you like Winterson's style, I would highly recommend "Written on the Body" instead.
Strongblack Coffee
I have been bewitched by the most beautiful read that has ever happened to me. I won't be able to write down what, why and how but this book is going to be my lifelong favorite! I am glad i found the love.


I said 'You are the future.'
He said 'Does time wear a watch?'

What a fashion opportunity. While the physics fraternity are just beginning to wrestle with the implications of time travel, the travellers are worrying about what to wear. The world is ready for Ralph Lauren Mediaeval.

Serafina Sands
"Like" may not be the correct word for how I felt about this book, but I certainly found it unique and interesting. Gut symmetries refers not only to the parallels and symmetries of love and relationships in the book, but also to "GUT" in the physics sense of the search for a general unifying theory that will explain the nature of the 80 - 90% of the universe that isn't actually explained by the Standard Model. Winterson's writing is . . .

Newton visualized time as an arrow flying towards
Persephone Abbott
As twice before, Winterson draws me in via the simple sentences that circle around the more complex narrative that seeks to describe that there is no time, and she embraces time itself to explain the lack of ticking. Are we waves? Or are we swept by waves? Perhaps repeat waves that have crested over our very genesis before we became into being threatened by pinpoint, tacked to a birth certificate? Waves of the time worm? Yet though I see clearly the chaos of what should exist by right, this time ...more
i'm only a chapter or two in and i'm already losing interest. what others seem to find poetic about the language, i'm finding overly purple and obtuse. i kept wanting to roll my eyes. i guess jeanette winterson is not my thing.
I can't get into this story, and that saddens me because I've enjoyed Jeanette Winterson's other books. Ah well. Life's too short to force myself to finish it.
Roxana Dreptu
It's not the first time I fall in love with Jeanette Winterson's writing (after having read Oranges are not the Only Fruit and Sexing the Cherry. Her poetic prose with a touch of sensuality that is never graphic, her themes of fantastic and of science combined, the constant feel that things are not what they seem. An unexpected triangle, Jove, Stella and Alice, is nuanced by the individual stories and the constant presence of a surreal background. And while reading I was positive that Schrodinge ...more
Quotes for a review never written:

"Forgive me if I digress. I cannot tell you who I am unless I tell you why I am. I cannot help you to take a measurement until we both know where we stand.

This is the difficulty. Now that physics is proving the intelligence of the universe what are we to do about the stupidity of humankind? I include myself. I know that the earth is not flat but my feet are. I know that space is curved but my brain has been cordoned by habit to grow in a straight line. What I c
Iso Cambia
I love this author, although this meanders a bit...

This is the difficulty. Now that physics is proving the intelligence of the universe what are we do to about the stupidity of people? (11)

The body is its own biosphere, air entering cautiously through an elaborate filter, food attacked by hostile acids. Nothing from outside is given a long-stay visa. Oxygen is expelled as carbon, even champagne and foie gras are pummeled into turds and piss. The body is efficient but not
I like movies, there is in some people’s lives, a general vivid life in dramas, as such when these that injects people and energy and project them along a page well written. I put this book down, only for a few days, after that having only the last three chapters to delve into. The first was hard to discuss. The author is extraordinary and can recreate the right atmosphere for her characters. It all seems straight forward enough. The story is long and boorish. It is all a little outdated though, ...more
Question. What occurs when an unstoppable cannonball encounters an immovable post? Answer: The questioner has beggared the question; any universe that does or can contain the former cannot also contain the latter; it is one or the other. It is in fact likely none or the other, but that's beside the point.

Could God create a stone so large that He Himself could not lift it? As is known to those who die in the collapse of large heavy buildings, god cannot or will not lift stones. The skier in an av
Jenny (Reading Envy)
While I love her writing as always, this is not my favorite Jeanette Winterson. That honor still belongs to Written on the Body or The Powerbook. It is funny because both of those books have less plot than Gut Symmetries, but I think it is some of the plot in this book that made me enjoy it less.

The story focuses on three people - Alice, a theoretical physicist, who has an affair with Jove, and then also his wife Stella. Each chapter is told from a different perspective, with the title of a taro
There were pages on end when I only grasped a small portion of what Jeanette Winterson was describing. And then there would be a few words that absolutely floored me.

One of my favorite excerpts:
“My feelings dismay me. I so rarely control them. They are their own kingdom, too primitive to be a republic, and when they want to, they send their armies to batter me. My total self should include feeling but I do not know how to make a treaty with that warrior state…
I say I appear naked before you, bu
Oct 15, 2007 Evan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes Jeanette Winterson
I'm in a phase where I am reading all J.W.'s work and trying to do so in order of publication. That being said she revisits sentences and themes. Her work builds on itself even though the characters and stories are different and I like that. This story is about Jove and his wife Stella and his mistress Alice. After Stella finds out about the affair, she and Alice meet and begin an affair of their own. The book tells the stories of each of their parents also and their are some interesting connect ...more
Jeanette Winterson is like Antonia S. Byatt: one of those writers where I love *how* they write so much that I'll probably enjoy it regardless of *what* they write, and how weird it gets. This one is pretty weird, like Angels & Insects, but like Angels & Insects I liked rolling around in the prose and the attempts to reconcile science with poetry--in fact I think I liked this a little better than A&I in this regard. In either case, like Byatt I will probably work my way through Winte ...more
Schrödinger's cat discovers Kabbalah in a non-Euclidian love triangle of alchemy and cannibalism. But then, you don't really read Jeanette Winterson for the plot, do you? Not so much written on the body this time, but written in the gut (or, indeed the GUT), but still exploring why the measure of love is loss, whilst seeking the aesthetic solution (which must exist, as it always does) to the toughest problems of all. Describing it as “experimental” is somewhat tautological with Winterson, but th ...more
While this is not my favorite of Jeanette Winterson's books, I still read it in a single (long) sitting. It is the story of the love triangle/three-way relationship among two physicists and a poet. Alice, while already having an affair with Jove, a married man, meets his wife Stella expecting a fight. Instead, Alice and Stella fall in love as well.

As in any other Winterson novel, the story is told in a non-linear fashion with heartbreakingly beautiful prose. Each chapter is named after a tarot
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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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“He: What’s the matter with you?

Me: Nothing.

Nothing was slowly clotting my arteries. Nothing slowly numbing my soul. Caught by nothing, saying nothing, nothingness becomes me. When I am nothing they will say surprised in the way that they are forever surprised, "but there was nothing the matter with her.”
“Do you fall in love often?"

Yes often. With a view, with a book, with a dog, a cat, with numbers, with friends, with complete strangers, with nothing at all.”
More quotes…