Sally Whitehead's Reviews > Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson
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Jan 02, 12

bookshelves: books-read-in-2011
Read from December 28 to 31, 2011

"Oranges are not the Only Fruit" is easily one of my all time favourite books. I read it as a young adult when literature was a new and exciting discovery and it was incredibly influential. As a result, despite having never read any other Jeanette Winterson, she has always interested me, and I can't help but feel an affection towards her.

"Why be Happy..." is much more than an autobiography, and it doesn't simply rewrite a more honest account of the fictionalised semi-autobiographical "Oranges". It is a searing memoir which takes you from the black humour of a grim working class Northern upbringing to the powerful and moving ruminations of an intelligent, successful woman who finds herself "going mad" as the ghosts of being adopted and the unknown aspects of her start in life refuse to leave her. The book is worth reading for Winterson's depiction of the process of mental breakdown, and the subsequent healing, alone.

An incredibly thoughtful book which weaves memoir and personal philosophy (on everything from class, gender, politics, art, literature and creativity, motherhood, identity, and most importantly loss and love) beautifully.
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Penny Your review is so good I'm not going to write one. thanks!


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