Saturday, January 23, 2010

REVIEW: Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson

Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson is set in 17th century London. It's the stories of Dog-Woman, a massive and hideous woman who finds a baby in the Thames, adopts him and names him Jordan. On their travels, they search for the meaning of love, the ponder what is true and meet the 12 dancing princesses and hear their stories. Winterson really plays with time and fairy tales and imagination in this short, weird little book. She even rewrites some of history. Some of it is confusing, some of it is uncomfortable to read, but it's all really written in such a beautiful way, if somewhat choppy and fragmented.

Awhile back I read another of Jeanette Winterson's books, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, and thought it was a bit of fun. When I saw Sexing the Cherry in a charity shop last year, I picked it up thinking 'why not?' It's quite a slim book I thought, even if I hate it it's still less than 150 pages. And soon after buying this book, I read a negative review of it. Vivienne over at Serendipity (link to review below) couldn't make it through the book and that really put me off for awhile. And it's worth mentioning here. Reading this book did make me feel uncomfortable in parts, especially as I read so many instances of anti-male writing. I'm all for equal rights, but I don't believe that tearing down one sex in order to raise the other is the right way to go about things.

Despite all of my misgivings with this book, the part I enjoyed the most was the relationship between the Dog-woman and Jordan. They have such a wonderful connection to each other, but they don't really understand how the other feels for them. There's a great scene towards the end where the Dog-woman struggles with her emotions after seeing Jordan after such a long time. And instead of embracing him, telling him how much she missed him and loved him, she says nothing. And they walk down the beach together. It's a really beautiful scene, I wish I'd written it down to share with you here.

This book really did make me think. I was left wondering what it all meant, what was Winterson's purpose in writing this book? I think I touched on some of the main themes, of love and truth and imagination. I think Winterson wanted readers to see the world differently, to see the difference in gender roles and to think of history in a new way. To be imaginative. That's what I got out of reading this book anyway. Sexing the Cherry is not a book for everyone, I don't think. But it's one that I'm glad to have read.

Other opinions:

So Many Books
Tales from the Reading Room
A Work in Progress

Read for: 100+ reading challenge, 1% well-read challenge, GLBT reading challenge.


  1. Glad that you got more out of this book than me. I just couldn't get past the male battering.

  2. I really liked this as well, but I think it helped that I read it in a group setting. I'm glad I got a taste of her writing as well and wouldn't mind trying some of her other novels. What I think I liked most was some of the outrageous imagery--the dinner party that took place with the diners suspended above an alligator pit?!


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