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The Powerbook

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  4,450 ratings  ·  275 reviews
The PowerBook is twenty-first century fiction that uses past, present and future as shifting dimensions of a multiple reality. The story is simple. An e-writer called Ali or Alix will write to order anything you like, provided that you are prepared to enter the story as yourself and take the risk of leaving it as someone else. You can be the hero of your own life. You can ...more
Paperback, 244 pages
Published May 3rd 2001 by Vintage (first published 1994)
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Average rating 3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,450 ratings  ·  275 reviews

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Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: erotica
"Very gently the Princess lowered herself across my knees and I felt the firm red head and pale shaft plant itself in her body. A delicate green-tinted sap dribbled down her brown thighs. All afternoon I fucked her."

Jeanette Winterson! Oh, how I love you so! When I read your books, I find myself totally immersed in them, and I find myself completely unaware of anything else around me, until of course, I'm rudely interrupted.
I was introduced to Winterson last year with" Written on the body" That
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Loved, adored, I want to dream in this book.

ETA: Ten years later, another reading, much slower this time. So nice to savor and dwell in it, maybe no book better than this one in which to do so.

"Inside her marriage there were too many clocks and not enough time. Too much furniture and too little space. Outside her marriage, there would be nothing to hold her, nothing to shape her. The space she found would be outer space. Space without gravity or weight, where bit by bit the self disintegrates."
Mar 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Jeanette Winterson is someone who can write sentences/paragraphs/passages that absolutely rock my world, yet she consistently fails to write a novel that I love in its entirety. It's incredibly frustrating. I would say in general you'd like this novel less the more of her books you've read, because yet again she's taking on the subject of being in love with a married woman, and she's done that plot more powerfully elsewhere. If, however, you haven't read many of her books, this is a good one to ...more
James Barker
I had quite a moment reading this the other evening. This is so profoundly a Jeanette Winterson book that it took me back to reading the likes of 'The Passion' and 'Sexing the Cherry' as a naive, eager-to-love teenager half a lifetime ago. Back then Winterson's ideas about love and the power of her writing rattled my heart in my chest. Now her words leave me mostly empty. I'll revisit her early work at some point, hoping that they still hold me in a thrall. A good part of me thinks they will- al ...more
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My last outstanding Winterson, The PowerBook was as superbly written as I have come to expect. Winterson says some absolutely wonderful things about the craft of writing throughout, and weaves together so many narrative strands to give the novel an almost bottomless depth. Her prose is exquisite: 'I was the place where you anchored. I was the deep water where you could be weightless. I was the surface where you saw your own reflection. You scooped me up in your hands.'

As with several of Winterso
Jun 21, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eros, 2009
I read Winterson’s Written on the Body a few years ago and have never read a novel since that better depicted love. I should have known that it would be a novel written by Winterson herself that would rival my first foray into her work.

The Powerbook explores love, sexuality and gender. This is the theme of many of Winterson’s novels – and one that greatly intrigues me. Is sexuality masculine or feminine? Does the ambiguity of a partner’s sex change the love or physical boundaries between them?

Sep 20, 2009 rated it it was ok
Full of fairly meaningless wannabe aphorisms (see gobbits of Wilde, minus the wit). Example: "everything done with effort is beautiful. Nothing effortless is beautiful" (better put in her version, but nonetheless void of meaning). You can see what she was trying to do, both from the book and from what she's said in interviews - be very very modern, have a book without a story, composed principally of emotions (she succeeds here - there's very little intellect between these covers) and full of te ...more
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gay-lgbtq, read-2013
The book is about love, myth and stories. Interactive stories written between Ali, the writer, and her lover, a married lady who she meets online every night. Together they are writing the story of their courtship, or is it mostly Ali?

I loved this book. The prose is sparse but it's beautifully written, like poetry, and the descriptions of Paris, Capri and London are almost like walking in these places on a summer's evening. There is the stylised dialogue and sparring wordplay between the lovers,
Carolyn Jacobson
Feb 18, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got caught up in some of the stories, but it was all against my basic inclination. I didn't like this book.

I resisted the whole powerbook idea. It felt like it was trying too hard to be clever and exotic. (And the language of computer prompts and commands stopped being exotic a while ago.) (And we don't unwrap emails. We just don't.)

I have liked some books that continually gesture towards the ideal or towards a series of generalized beliefs about love and life (although it's not my preference
Jun 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Oh, Jeanette, I love you so. Your lyricism bathes over me until I lose all sense of time, perception, reality; I fall into your writing like I imagine I would into the eye of a storm which tears apart any illusion of order and structure, and find myself lulled away on the wings of a dream in which "sense" is meaningless.

Still, I couldn't give myself fully to The PowerBook. I admit, it's me, not you. But The PowerBook lost any sense of being a story, and while I appreciate non-linear, surreal exp
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I’m not entirely sure what I’ve just read.

Is this book meant to be about... love?... sex?... relationships?

Is it about lesbians?

I’m giving it two stars instead of one because I feel like once it’s been discussed in seminars, I’ll understand it more.
Daniëlle Van den Brink
Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
"In prospect or in contemplation, love is where it seems to be. Reach in to lift it out and your hand misses. The water is deeper than you had gauged. You reach further, your whole body straining, and then there is nothing for it but to slide in - deeper, much deeper than you had gauged - and still the thing eludes you."

Winterson takes the reader by the hand while showing them stories that carry meaning that transcends their time and place. All sorts of characters sacrifice everything for a mere
Cheyenne Blue
The short review is that I adore this book. Its meandering prose sucked me in early on and didn't let up until I'd turned the last page.

Alix writes stories on the web for people who want to live those stories for a night. Woven around these stories is her love affair with a married woman. Their story moves through Turkey, Paris, London, past, present and future.

I wrote a blog post about this book. Since writing that about the love letter written by a past owner of this copy on the inside of the
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Kind of both worldly and other-worldly. I love the way it draws the reader in. It is Winterson's style of observation, fancy and humour, but apart from that it sits by itself in my reading experience. I finished it on an aeroplane, looking down at the clouds and with the sun on the horizon, which felt very apt. In the clouds, before coming down to land into reality.

As an archivist, I love her perspective on life, on history, memories, what is reality, and what reality really is. I love the way
Jul 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Bryn by: Martin Pearson
This is a beautiful, poetic book, full of stories that relate to each other, and tell a larger tale. It's also a book about resisting narrative conventions, which as a writer, I found fascinating. People who like straightforward plot and coherrence might find this a challenging read, but if you are happy with something less clear and linnear, and enjoy beautiful prose and deep introspection, give it a try. I thought it was exquisite. It's a small, intricately cut gem, its facets reflecting aspec ...more
“The stories we sit up late to hear are love stories. It seems that we cannot know enough about this riddle of our lives. We go back and back to the same scenes, the same words, trying to scrape out the meaning. Nothing could be more familiar than love. Nothing else eludes us so completely.”

nobody writes about love, and its crazed highs and lows, better than Jeanette Winterson.
This is probably one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read and it wasn’t quite my cup of tea.
Vincent Silk
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
read this when i was 14 or 15 and loved the shit out of it
Michelle Yoon
Sep 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were many aspects of this book that I found intriguing and engaging. Perhaps one that is worth mentioning is how the story keeps shifting. First we read about the storyteller, then we see it as the character of a story being written, then as the person whom the story is directed to. Again and again we are given different perspectives to ponder, different characters to emphatize with, different roles to play. We are constantly transported to different worlds and realms, moving back and fort ...more
Jun 01, 2012 rated it liked it
This is the book that every teenage girl wants to write.

Okay - maybe not, this is just the book that I wish I were talented and driven enough to write when I was 15. It's all clever and full of Talmud references and interesting tid bits of history and rewritings of well known stories and lost love and longing. And it would all have been great if this were a book that I wrote when I was 15, but it's not - it annoys me when my 15 year old romanticizing smarty pants self comes out in my thinking /
JG (Introverted Reader)
Okay, it's been a few years since I read this, so I'm a little fuzzy on details. The way I remember it, the narrator is someone who writes love stories for other people to give to the ones they love. Then it seems like the narrator starts to fall in love with one of the people the story is intended for. But all of that is really just secondary. What I really enjoyed (and what was really the focus of the book) were all the different love stories and all the different ways the narrator found to po ...more
Mar 07, 2008 rated it it was ok
this book is like a caricature of a jeanette winterson book. don't waste your time. ...more
Christy Stewart
Contrived or not, Winterson's writing is poetic and fun to read.

My favorite line: Meatspace still has some advantages for a carbon-based girl.
Jun 21, 2015 rated it did not like it
Jeanette ‘me me me’ Winterson at her worst. An 80s novelist running dry right before your eyes.
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, 2018, 2019, 2020, lgbtq
There are people out there who saw the 2002 staging of The Powerbook with Fiona Shaw and Saffron Burrows live (and survived) and I'll never stop thinking about That. ...more
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a short strange but beautifully written read, it’s more like a selection of short stories that sort of link together than a novel.
Jake Bornheimer
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
There was a moment there when this was almost another If on a winter's night a traveler, but some exquisitely bad writing robbed me of the prospect. This book is full of fake-deep lines; something like "beauty is never effortless, but all effort is beautiful". Like, what are you talking about? Did Winterson get very stoned before writing this? The dialogue is also among the most annoying I've read. Each character constantly attempts to one-up the other in some kind of hellish improv yes-and, the ...more
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library
I love Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, so when I saw this one in a second-hand book shop there was no doubt in my mind, I had to have another Winterson book in my collection. It's a lot like Oranges in that it has side storylines interwoven into the main story.

This book is about love. Heartbreak, affairs, marriages, betrayal, but mainly it’s about love. The frame narrative takes place in a chat room between two people, whose gender is not identified, so it's unclear who these two people are, and
Maria Ch
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
i love Winterson’s writing, but there is something missing from her aphoristic lines and paragraphs to comprise a good and well structured novel. I loved Written on the body, but it feels that all her other books i’ve read are circling around the same story. There's echoes of Virginia Woolf's Orlando in the transformations of the character that is recreated in a dialogue between the writer and the commissioner of the story, but there is still something missing in the end result from what the ope ...more
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Here's my life – I have to mine it, farm it, trade it, tenant it, and when the lease is up it cannot be renewed." ...more
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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

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“What a strange world this is when you can have as much sex as you like but love is taboo.” 136 likes
“I like being on my own better than I like anything else, but I can't give up love. Maybe it's the tension between longing and aloneness that I need. My own funicular railway, holding in balance the two things most likely to destroy me.” 99 likes
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