Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Passion” as Want to Read:
The Passion
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Passion

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  17,089 ratings  ·  1,235 reviews
Jeanette Winterson’s novels have established her as one of the most important young writers in world literature. The Passion is perhaps her most highly acclaimed work, a modern classic that confirms her special claim on the novel. Set during the tumultuous years of the Napoleonic Wars, The Passion intertwines the destinies of two remarkable people: Henri, a simple French s ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published August 7th 1997 by Grove Press (first published 1987)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Passion, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Leonora no he is not. he is a different person.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  17,089 ratings  ·  1,235 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Lisa
"Gambling is not a vice, it is an expression of our humanness.
We gamble. Some do it at the gaming table, some do not.
You play, you win, you play, you lose. You play."

Jeanette Winterson is one of those authors I am constantly surprised at. "The Passion" is my favourite so far (update: before reading Sexing the Cherry, which is even more fascinating). There is something magical in her way of weaving the stories of her characters, and showing different angles of the central theme: passion. I do
...more
Elyse Walters
Dec 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Lovers are not at their best when it matters. Mouths dry up, palms sweat, conversation flags, and all the time the heart is threatening to fly from the body once and for all. Lovers have been known to have heart attacks. Lovers drink too much from nervousness and cannot perform. They eat too little and faint during their fervently
wished consummation. They do not stroke the favored cat and their face-paint comes loose. This is not all. Whatever you have set store by, your dress, your dinner,
yo
...more
Daniel
Jul 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
There is little I can say about this book that does not border on gushing, but I'll try. The Passion is perhaps one of the most amazing stories I have ever read. It is not so much a novel as a journey through the mind and soul of Henri and Villanelle, through the real and ephemeral Venice, through history and imagination. While containing a solid narrative, it delves into the psyche and spirit of the writer and her characters. Read it once and you are trapped. Read it twice and you gladly relinq ...more
Cecily
Dans le Noir

A blind pedlar… never spilt his stew or missed his mouth the way I did. ‘I can see,’ he said, ‘but I don’t use my eyes.’

I recently ate unknown food, served in total darkness, by blind waiters.

It was an intense and disorienting experience. Boundaries break down: you touch the stranger who guides you to your seat, talk to invisible people sitting beside you (how un-English!), can’t judge or be judged by looks or clothing, and are tempted to eat with your fingers, despite the cutlery
...more
Paul Bryant
Nov 17, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
Jeanette Winterson pops up from time to time on BBC political debate programmes and she is like a laser beam of sensibleness, from a decidedly rad-lesbian perspective she cuts through the waffle and she's a joy to hear, Germaine Greer's punkier young sister maybe. But in her books she goes off on one, to coin a British phrase :

to go off on one (Brit; colloq.)

to suddenly become very angry and start shouting or behaving violently, as in

He went off on one because he thought I was threatening his do
...more
Hanneke
Mar 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 1001-read
A magical book. The story of the French country boy Henri who was personally picked by Napoleon Bonaparte to be his special chicken cook and Villanelle, the adventurous red-haired daughter of a Venetian boatsman whose feet are webbed, but she cannot swim. They escape Napoleon’s army at the siege of Moscow and make their way to Venice where they meet their separate fates. It is wonderful to see Venice through the eyes of Henri, who gets lost for days on end and is almost convinced that the church ...more
Kelly
Jun 18, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: not really sure
To my surprise? I'm kind of disappointed in it. The New York Times review of it says that it "dares you to laugh and stares you down." Unfortunately, I'm just laughing. She's trying so hard to be profound with these statements, and 9 out of 10 times it doesn't quite work. The book is filled with cliches and trite conclusions that are just so hackneyed (actual example: death and darkness are like each other...wow! Have you noticed that??) Her attempt to be Marquez fails quite badly, unfortunately ...more
Robin
Somewhere between fear and sex passion is.

This short novel packs in so much beauty in the intersecting stories of French soldier Henri and daughter of a Venetian boatman, Villanelle. Winterson is a sage, a poet, with each scene, each paragraph containing gorgeous words about love, and the gamble of life and choices made.

Set in the times of the Napoleonic wars, Henri was selected by Bonaparte himself to prepare and serve his nightly chicken. He did this with devotion, and saw horrific death, su
...more
Jamie
Feb 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Shelves: favorites
I don't even know where to begin with this, so I'll likely keep it brief. Basically all I can say is that Jeanette Winterson is officially my next obsession, that I'm absolutely thrilled that my adviser recommended her to me, and that this is one of the most invigorating novels I've read in a long time. Winterson reminds me a bit of Angela Carter here-not that they write in the same way, but in that they use magic and intertextuality in similar ways, and that each have a very blunt aesthetic tha ...more
Lisa
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Passion is an intense kaleidoscope of a novel- an intertwining narrative of a solider and a Venetian woman during the Napoleonic Wars. This could be a thick historical novel but it is concentrated into a mere 160 pages. This is my first experience reading Jeannette Winterson and it won't be my last. Wintersons' writing is so vivid, it shimmers on the page.
Diane Barnes
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was not sure where this book was headed when I began, and I'm not sure where I landed at the end, but I do know I enjoyed the journey. This is only my second Jeanette Winterson book, and the first one was Christmas themed short stories. I enjoyed it enough to look for more, and picked this one up at a used book sale.

In this novel, you simply ride along on a river of magical prose until, every page or two, you hit the rapids with an awesome sentence or idea that whirls you around and leaves yo
...more
Jo
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: erotica
"Somewhere between fear and sex passion is. Passion is not so much an emotion as a destiny."

This is only my second Jeanette Winterson novel, and holy shit, she did not disappoint.
This is a short read, but as I was devouring this book, it felt quite a bit longer.
The Passion, follows two protagonists in their search for love and passion. That sounds pretty dull right? Wrong!! Winterson's writing style is captivating and unique, and it's not alike to anything I've read before. She explores gender,
...more
Gabrielle
This might be a simple case of bad timing: sometimes, you will cross paths with a book and quite simply not be in the mood for it. After hearing so many praises for Jeanette Winterson’s work, I was very curious, and after reading a big fat book set in the Napoleonic era, I figured an itty-bitty one in the same setting could be a nice change of pace.

The story of Henri and Villanelle is written in lovely, poetic prose, but somehow, it left me wanting. Wanting what exactly, I couldn’t tell you. Wha
...more
Ana
There’s something exhilarating about reading your favourite author’s earlier books: you don’t look for flaws in the ‘young’ writer’s work, you see the beginning and the possibilities, and you now know where everything is coming from: all those later books that you’ve fallen in love with from the very first pages. Jeanette Winterson is one of my most read and reread authors if we’re not counting that one YA Fantasy writer that I’m complete trash for.

The Passion is quite an emotional read and alt
...more
Anna Banana
May 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

Wow! Talk about amazing writing! This book was deep, the writing was amazing and I loved how much it made me think. So, so good!
Caitlin
Jan 26, 2011 rated it did not like it
After reading all the glowing reviews and then tackling the book for myself, I felt kind of like the child that wonders why the emperor has no clothes on. Everyone else can see the elaborate costume, why can't I?

Usually I can understand the love of a critically acclaimed book even if it's not my cup of tea but the writing in The Passion is something I just can't get past. This is an entire book of life changing ponders like "Is every snowflake different? No one knows," and repetitions of other
...more
PattyMacDotComma
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It’s not long, and it’s an easy read (you don’t need to be a literary critic to enjoy it!), but the style and world are so marvellous, I wanted to linger. There is history and love, but it’s not a historical romance.

In spite of some magical realism, it’s not really a fantasy either. In those days, unusual or exceptional talents may have been attributed to magic, so the lines between what’s supposed to be real and what the characters have imagined are pretty blurry.

It’s the v
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Apr 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Set in Venice. You know, not enough books are set in Venice.

Quotations:
“How is it that one day life is orderly and you are content, a little cynical perhaps but on the whole just so, and then without warning you find the solid floor is a trapdoor and you are now in another place whose geography is uncertain and whose customs are strange?” (pg. 68)

“Passion will not be commanded. It is no genie to grant us three wishes when we let it loose. It commands us and very rarely in the way we would choose
...more
Samadrita
2 stars for the phantasmagorical imagery and the story.
1 more star for the beautifully done ending and the immensely quotable lines on love and passion the writer seems to have clumsily crammed in to the narrative in the last few pages.
TheSkepticalReader
The Passion follows two major protagonists, a Frenchmen in love with Bonaparte and a Venetian with webbed feet and a stolen heart, as they wander through life seeking passion and love. The novel is exquisitely written and while chunks of it felt heavier then necessary, the language itself is too beautiful to ignore. It has an alluring sense of calm that draws the reader into the streets of Europe and even though it barely 200-pages, the historic setting felt truly authentic even when it’s really ...more
Joshie
Jeanette Winterson has done it again. I continue to be impressed the more I immerse myself in her works. This is my fourth book of hers and she is slowly climbing up the ladder of My Favourite Authors list.

To say that I am completely astonished and mesmerised with The Passion would be an understatement. I am blown away. Its surrealistic, portable, and its mythical sense of narrative creates a world I find myself deeply invested in. I do not know a lot about the Napoleonic wars and gambling nor
...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Three stars for the story, plus an extra star for originality and outstanding writing.

If you like quirky, give this little book a try. It's only 160 pages. It's an odd combination of historical fiction, magical realism, and humor, with some unconventional romantic elements tying it all together.

Henri is a cook/soldier for Napoleon Bonaparte. Villanelle is a bi-sexual, web-footed (yes, web-footed) boatman's daughter in Venice. She has some mystical powers and a penchant for gambling. Circumstanc
...more
Pink
Apr 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a short story, that packs quite a lot in. We have some history of Napoleonic times, alongside romance and adventure. It's sort of War and Peace meets Tipping the Velvet, so if that sounds like your sort of story, give it a try.
Beachesnbooks
This was one of the first books I read in 2016, but it's endured as one of the very best. This was also my introduction to Jeanette Winterson's writing and made me want to read everything she's ever written. It's beautifully crafted historical fiction that follows a young man who joins Napoleon's army and a bisexual Venetian woman, both becoming entrenched in different types of passion that may or may not consume their lives. It's about the nature of love and obsession, and it's heartbreaking ye ...more
Nancy Springer
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read several books a week and seldom share with Goodreads because I feel private about my reading. But this slim book by Jeanette Winterson makes me want to shout out to readers everywhere, "This is special! This is superlative magical realism! Read it! Get your hands on a copy and read it now!"
Hermien
Aug 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I am so glad I re-read this book. I scored it 3 stars in 1993, but absolutely loved it this time around so 5 stars from me.
Aubrey
3.5/5

So this one had its good and its bad, places where the unconventional prose worked beautifully and other places where it ran off the tracks. Now, this kind of historical fiction, filled with magical descriptions of far off places that are so much more engaging than real life, was my all-consuming love during my high school years. I have returned to this genre with many more books under my belt, and a much more critical eye for faults.

The author enjoys her meaningful phrases, which were stre
...more
Nicola
Another very peculiar book from Jeanette Winterson. I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as previous offerings but it's short, highly imaginative and full of passion, both of the good and the bad kind.

The two main characters are suitably unusual - we have Henri, a simple French lad, who joined up with Napoleons army because he fell in love with Napoleon. He didn't make it into battle though, he ended up cooking chickens for the great man throughout all of his time in the military. Once Henri d
...more
Josh
Jan 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
"I think now that being free is not being powerful or rich or well regarded or without obligations but being able to love. To love someone else enough to forget about yourself even for one moment is to be free."
Faiza Sattar
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
★★★★★ (5/5)

I’m telling you stories. Trust me

How does one begin to review a tremendous piece of art? Where does one start from? A brief synopsis? A general praise for the wonderful and the evocative? The commendable characterisation, the enriched setting or the overwhelmed throbbing of heart the book leaves the reader with? Shall I commence with this story’s grandeur, the marvellous pace which kept me at the edge of my hypothetical seat, unable to put it down, fearful of losing the moment which g
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Issue with cover 2 27 Apr 26, 2016 09:39AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Rat Bohemia
  • The Birds Fall Down
  • The Terrible Girls
  • Stay (Aud Torvingen #2)
  • Valencia
  • Burning Your Boats: The Collected Short Stories
  • More Dykes to Watch Out For (DtWOF, #2)
  • The Complete Hothead Paisan: Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist
  • Trash: Stories
  • The Handmaid's Tale
  • Maurice Guest
  • The Slow Fix
  • Beyond the Pale
See similar books…
4,364 followers
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
“The body shuts down when it has too much to bear; goes its own way quietly inside, waiting for a better time, leaving you numb and half alive.” 489 likes
“Whoever it is you fall in love with for the first time, not just love but be in love with, is the one who will always make you angry, the one you can't be logical about.” 453 likes
More quotes…