So. Jeanette Winterson. Of course, I know who she is. She’s a writer. She’s from Accrington. She wrote ‘Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit’. She’s won more prizes than you can shake a potato at. She’s clever and interesting on Radio 4. I even know that she was adopted. And that her partner is Susie Orbach.
So when I unwrapped this brilliantly-titled book
I have now. And this is brilliant. It’s an exploration of the author’s complex relationship with her adoptive mother, and her decision to find her birth mother. Mrs Winterson, writ large on every page, would be funny if she wasn’t so sad, so damaged, so damaging. Winterson writes with an honesty and deftness that made me feel as though I, too, was locked out and sitting on the step all night, hoping for a kind neighbour to bring me something to eat.
Most kids grow up leaving something out for Santa at Christmas time when he comes down the chimney. I used to make presents for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
‘Will it be tonight, Mum?’
‘Ask not for whom the bell tolls.’
Mrs. Winterson did not have a soothing personality.
This book is worth reading for the things it teaches us about family and love, about hope and belonging, about books and determination and the importance of everyday kindness. And it’s worth reading because it’s horribly funny and brilliantly moving and has an emotional honesty that I find very appealing.
Here’s the author, talking about the book. I love what she says about authenticity.
You can buy ‘Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal’ here.