Brunhilde'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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's review
Jan 09, 12

Brilliant title - courtesy of Jeanette's adoptive mother - for an engrossing book. Winterson's prose for me has the same quality as Virginia Woolf - although the number of pages may be few, this is not reflected in the time the book takes to read, for each immaculately-crafted sentence requires lengthy reflection, appreication and makes ripples in your mind. This is to some extent the non-fiction version of Wintersons' first success, 'Oranges are not the only Fruit', giving the skinny on the extraordinary Mrs. Winterson, an almost-literally larger-than-life character whom Winterson is finally learning to understand and forgive. So the book is in essence a truly amazing account of how Winterson fought her way from this background via Oxford and on to becoming a very successful novelist and her continuing battle with all the ensuing demons. Interestingly, another reviewer here says someone reading it without knowing anything of Winterson would read it as an 'unusually literate sob-story'. I was in W H Smith's yesterday and as always had a chortle by the shelves marked 'Tragic Life Stories' for which there is clearly an unending public appetite, but which begin to blur and come out sounding like the sad old guys in Monty Python trying to outdo each other for the misery of their youth, always either without shoes or without feet... But I think that the quality of her mind and thinking - part of what makes this account 'unusually literate' - lifts this way above the average Pelzer-type story.and take her book to a more universally applicable level, if you need justification for reading it. I pondered on the title, Mrs. Winterson's words of wisdom - who'd like to define 'normal' anyway? The older I get, the more elusive a concept it seems. Given a choice I'd definitely opt for being happy.. One thing I know though - Winterson is one of the great writers, immensely readable and entertaining and always thought-provoking.

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