REVIEW by J’aime: Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson

The most beguilingly seductive novel to date from the author of The Passion and Sexing the Cherry.

Winterson chronicles the consuming affair between the narrator, who is given neither name nor gender, and the beloved, a complex and confused married woman.

“At once a love story and a philosophical meditation.” —New York Times Book Review.








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About the Book

Written on the Body
by Jeanette Winterson

n/a; standalone

LGBTQ Literary Fiction


Publication Date
April 17, 2013

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J’aime’s Review

I unfortunately went into this book thinking it was a romance that happens to have a literary style. It’s not; it’s a piece of literary fiction that happens to have love as its subject. It’s an interesting and well-written book, which I ultimately found unsatisfying.

I was interested in the book because I heard that the point of view character isn’t given a gender. Admittedly it is a gimmick, but Winterson pulls it off elegantly. My opinion of the narrator’s gender kept flip-flopping, which invited me to think about my own assumptions. Why did one scene make me think the narrator was a woman? Why did something else make me think the narrator was a man? Why do I think I can make judgments like that?

The writing style is as beautiful as you’d expect for a literary writer: sometimes moving, and other times sharply funny enough to keep me turning pages in spite of myself.

What story there is concerns a love affair that breaks up for a quite contrived reason. I can’t help but think that if a genre romance writer used that plot device for conflict in her story, readers would laugh her out of the room. And yet Winterson gets five-star review after glowing review. I guess literary authors get a pass on plot. Fair enough – this book is definitely not about plot. Sometimes I felt like I was reading an extended prose poem. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. For me, I like a little more narrative with my feels.

Recommended for readers who appreciate beautiful writing, when they are in the mood to dive deep into the experience of love, with or without narrative.

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The review copy of this book was obtained by the reviewer through the book trading website BookMooch. All titles reviewed on this blog are a fair and honest assessment of the book. No monetary compensation was received in exchange for this review. For more information regarding our review process, please visit our Review Policy & Review Request Submission page.


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