The PowerBook – Jeanette Winterson

September 28, 2009 § 6 Comments


Only the impossible is worth the effort.

There’s nothing like the feeling of a book sucking you into a story, making you feel part of the plot, changing you, your thoughts and perspectives with every page.

This is my second attempt to read any of Winterson’s work. The first book I tried, Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, I didn’t manage to finish. I had found the style too detached, the story too cut up, for my liking.

This book, however, paints a very different story altogether.

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 forth between reality and virtuality.

The beauty of it all is that none of this leaves us readers out in the dark. We know what they know. We feel what they feel. We are, in a sense, the characters in the book, and the characters within the stories in the book. We are one with them, and yet, we transform and merge into other characters with such ease, it is quite quite exhilarating.

This book was beautifully written.

Some of my favourite quotes:

The body can endure compromise, and the mind can be seduced by it. Only the heart protests.

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 destry me.

In this life you have to be your own hero. By that I mean you have to win whatever it is that matters to you by your own strength and in your own way.

The past is magnetic. It draws us in. We cannot help ourselves and, as with other things that we cannot help in ourselves, we make up elaborate explanations, reasonable rational explanations, to chant away the powerful things that don’t belong to us.

This is a book well worth reading. After this one, I’m definitely going to give Winterson’s Oranges another chance.

Rating: 4.5


For those curious to know what the book is actually about, I give you… “The Blurb”:

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 have the freedom just for one night. But there is a price. Ali discovers that she too will have to pay it.

Set in London, Paris, Capri and Cyberspace, this is a book that reinvents itself as it travels. Using cover-versions, fairy tales, contemporary myths and popular culture, The PowerBook works at the intersection between the real and the imagined. Its territory is you.


§ 6 Responses to The PowerBook – Jeanette Winterson

  • Nadia says:

    Wow! Sounds like quite a book. I haven’t read much Winterson either – the only one I read was Oranges are not the only fruit and I have to say I quite liked it. I have Written on the Body on my bookshelf but I have yet to read it. Perhaps I will pick it up soon. Great post! Its nice to be reminded of authors who you tend to forget about unless you are huge fan and Winterson is one of those for me. Cheers!

  • Mel U says:

    I am near half done with Powerbook-This is my first book by Winterson-I am really intrigued by her writing style-I think the book is in part about how stories create our lives-If I can formulate anything about it (in the space of a blog post) I will post on it soon-glad to see this post-

  • Susan says:

    Michelle, the quotes you chose are really intriguing. I will definitely add this book to my TBR list.

  • Mel U says:

    Hi-I really liked your review and the book-

    I just posted a response to the book on my blog-thanks

  • Mark David says:

    Quite an interesting play on perspectives. I like books that are different. I’ll be looking for this, thanks 🙂

  • su says:

    Thanks everyone for leaving comments. I’ve been really busy these days, up to the point where I can’t even find time to respond to comments!

    Will be back on track, reading and posting about the books I’ve read, as soon as uni becomes less busy. =)

    So hang in there now!

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