I absolutely loved Oranges are Not the Only Fruit , which I read during a lit course. I didn’t quite know what to expect with this book, but I was very interested to see what Winterson would do.
This book is about passion, but perhaps not passion in the conventional manner we understand, the all-wrapped-up-in-love sort of way. Instead, it’s about the passion that drives people to pursue ambitions and dreams, as well as other people; the fierce feelings evoked and inspired by something greater that is outside of yourself, that which can serve as a point of concentrated focus for everything inside of you. It’s a wonderful conceit for a book and Winterson uses the language within her novel to tremendous effect, creating ethereal, dreamlike scenarios that vie with the grit and gore of warfare.
My only criticism of the book would be that it doesn’t really feel like it has a cohesive structure (unless it’s the central theme of passion). The two main characters of the novel lead very separate lives until the last fifty pages or so when they are thrown together due to chance events. This happens so quickly (one might say even abruptly) that it left me a bit suspicious of the sudden surge in sympathetic feeling that grows between Henri and Villanelle. This might have been more believable if the novel itself was longer – as it currently stands, the opening unwinds leisurely and the last third sums it all up rapidly, so it could have just been a matter of pacing.
Despite this disparity in pace, the book was fairly interesting (though still not as good as Oranges !)