Imagine if Jeanette Winterson wrote episodes of Made in Chelsea, and set them in the eighties? You’d have Royals by Emma Forrest.
Royals opens with 18-year-old Steven, preparing for a street party to celebrate the wedding of Lady Diana and Prince Charles. Steven is obsessed with fashion, and dreams of leaving behind his working-class upbringing to become a designer. Steven’s mum is his greatest supporter, and his father is a violent alcoholic.
He was jealous of me and Mum. It upset him that I made her happy. He wanted her to be happy, but he didn’t know how to do it himself. He bought her perfume on her birthday and he hit her. He got her kitchen remodelled, and he hit her.Continue reading →
I’ll be frank, I don’t spend much (any) time reading Shakespeare. I’m not filling weekends with sonnets or amusing myself with the Bard’s wittier plays. My Shakespearean experience is largely confined to school days; performances of A Midsummer Nights Dream in Melbourne’s Royal Botanical Gardens; and a few months during my childhood when we lived in a small town near Stratford-upon-Avon. So why was I drawn to a modern retelling of The Winter’s Tale? It was all about Jeanette Winterson, whose work I greatly admire.
The Winter’s Tale tells the story of a king whose jealousy results in the banishment of his baby daughter and the death of his beautiful wife. His daughter is found and brought up by a shepherd but through a series of extraordinary events, father and daughter, and eventually mother too, are reunited. In Winterson’s version, The Gap of Time, it’s all gangsters, gaming and pop stars, and against this backdrop, the themes of jealousy, loyalty and redemption are preserved. Continue reading →
Last night I had the great pleasure of hearing authors Chad Harbach and Jeanette Winterson speak as part of The Wheeler Centre winter program.
The story of Harbach’s debut novel, The Art of Fielding, is one of those publishing fairy tales – it took him ten years to write and when he was finally ready to show it, the book was rejected by all except one agent. According to Harbach, it seemed that the themes of the book, baseball and homosexuality, “…kind of cancelled each other out in terms of ‘audience appeal'”. Fortunately, publishers saw The Art of Fielding differently and the book was the centre of a fierce bidding war – it sold for $665,000 in what Vanity Fair called ‘the biggest fiction auction in recent memory’.
Have you read The Art of Fielding? My review is nearly ready – all I need to say at this stage is READ THIS BOOK. Continue reading →
The first thing that grabbed me in Jeanette Winterson’s memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? was the part of her story devoted to books and reading. I’m always interested in hearing authors talk about their reading and writing habits. And before I knew, I was completely swept up in her search for her biological mother and a ‘home’.
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? was a book group choice – had I not been under pressure to read it for book group, I probably would have started with Winterson’s first memoir, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, which focuses predominantly on Winterson’s childhood. As it turned out, it didn’t matter as the book stands alone and is an enthralling story in itself. Continue reading →