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The Passion

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  18,468 ratings  ·  1,384 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)
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Leonora no he is not. he is a different person.

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Average rating 4.11  · 
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 ·  18,468 ratings  ·  1,384 reviews


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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,
...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
Fiona
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Passion will not be commanded.....It commands us and very rarely in the way we would choose.

Henri joins Bonaparte’s new ‘Army of England’, the purpose of which is a cross Channel invasion to bring England into the Empire. The French people are passionate about Napoleon. At this time, they are prepared to follow him anywhere and do. The rest of Europe hates him and in time so will Henri. Bonaparte’s passions are Josephine and chicken which he allegedly eats every day. Henri is chosen to serve him
...more
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
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
Sidharth Vardhan
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: europe
A but fragmentary but I love the way she writes. There is a bit of youthfulness in the selection and treatment of a theme that might make it seem kitsch to readers who have read a lot. But really it was really one of the very first works. And I personally admired the presentation of Napolean. If you are into love poems, you will probably like it too. There are lots of quotes I gathered but gonna leave with just one:

"I say I'm in love with her, what does that mean?

It means I review my future a
...more
Emma
Dec 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
2.75/5 Stars

I had to read this book for class and in some way I feel like I've been robbed. This is definitely not what I was expecting and even though the prose is rather poetic and lovely, I was left wanting more. I felt like an ulterior depth was missing, I needed answers that were not given to me. The passages about passion, love, admiration and disappointment were beautifully written and they definitely sparked some thoughts. But other than this I truly felt like something was missing, espe
...more
Anna Banana
May 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt-reads
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!
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
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.
Andy Marr
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, moving, magical, incredible.
shakespeareandspice
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
Martina
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5/5 stars

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.


I read this book for an exam and it totally took me by surprise. I didn't expect to enjoy it so much.
But I did. I fell in love with Winterson's writing style: it's so poetic, engaging and fascinating.
It hasn't got a solid plot, but it's more like a journey through the minds of our main protagonists: Henri and Villanelle, wh
...more
Jeanette (Again)
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
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!"
Daniel Villines
May 05, 2020 rated it liked it
At about 150 pages in length, I have to say that I’m happy that this relatively short novel stayed relatively short. While The Passion keeps most of its plot in the realities of life in Napoleon’s Grand Army and also focuses on the mysteries of Venice, it also veers into fantasy at times. I’m certain that Jeanette Winterson had her reasons for thinking that reality was not enough to convey her messaging, and countless English professors will set aside a part of their curriculum to discuss those ...more
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
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5,028 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

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