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Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by…

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Jeanette Winterson

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1,018628,346 (4.05)110
Title:Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
Authors:Jeanette Winterson
Info:Vintage (2011), 230 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:memoir, dysfunctional families, literature, adoption

Work details

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson (2011)

  1. 62
    Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson (Anonymous user)
  2. 10
    Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron (librorumamans)
  3. 00
    Ghost Waltz: A Family Memoir by Ingeborg Day (sparemethecensor)
    sparemethecensor: Different subject matter but similar nonlinear styles and reflective prose.
  4. 00
    The Adoption Papers by Jackie Kay (thorold)
    thorold: Scottish poet vs. Lancashire novelist in a race to discover their biological parents...
  5. 00
    Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint by Nadia Bolz-Weber (akblanchard)
    akblanchard: Both writers survive fundamentalist childhoods and difficult young adulthoods to attain a measure of serenity in middle age.

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» See also 110 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
A great memoir (of sorts) dealing with the idea of feeling displaced, the healing power of creativity, and figuring out the beneficial aspects of love, as well as learning to love in a new way. ( )
  abbeyhar | Jul 23, 2014 |
A great memoir (of sorts) dealing with the idea of feeling displaced, the healing power of creativity, and figuring out the beneficial aspects of love, as well as learning to love in a new way. ( )
  abbeyhar | Jul 23, 2014 |
A great memoir (of sorts) dealing with the idea of feeling displaced, the healing power of creativity, and figuring out the beneficial aspects of love, as well as learning to love in a new way. ( )
  abbeyhar | Jul 23, 2014 |
This spare memoir is about the author's formative years from 1960 to 1980 and then skips to 2007. When she was young her life was often harrowing, sad, and frightening, but she tells it in beautiful language and with a feeling of hope and forgiveness. Jeanette Winterston was adopted at six months old in Accrington, England by a couple whose marriage was hardly ideal and continued that way until her mother's death. Her father was barely literate, but her mother apparently had finished high school and although her reading with Jeanette was primarily the Old Testament of the Bible, she was well versed in Shakespeare and some of the classics. She and her husband were fundamentalists and everything in their lives revolved around the church. Jeanette's only escape was in reading the books she had to keep hidden from her mother. She read voraciously and it gave her a place to hide in her mind when her life was at its most difficult. Jeanette's explanation of how she became educated at Oxford is both amusing and amazing, but reminded me of another writer who had a similar path to Harvard.

This book was beautifully written, but sometimes not an easy read. It is not written in a linear fashion, but hops around a little. It does give the reader a wonderful view of working-class England in the 1960s and 1970s, which is one I've not often been privy to.

Until the author mentioned Lighthousekeeping, I had not realized that I'd read another of her books. I'm sorry that I no longer own a copy of it, because I would like to re-read it now with this new knowledge of her formative life as background. I believe it would have added immeasurably to the reading experience of that book. ( )
  whymaggiemay | Jul 7, 2014 |
This is a book about the damage that parents (both real and adoptive) can inflict on children, and how that damage is carried through in adult life. It is full of insight, sadness, wit and surprises. It is also profoundly moving, particularly towards the end. Winterson manages again the difficult trick of making her very specific situation reach out to the universal. There are many clever ways in which form matches content here and the structure is well thought out. It is a book to be read aloud and with care. ( )
1 vote freelancer_frank | Feb 23, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
Where Winterson's debut, a tragic-comic tale of a young girl who is adopted by Pentecostal missionaries in Accrington, offered us a semi-fictionalised version of her childhood, her latest describes the reality. And what a hellish reality it was. Winterson's story is one of abandonment, loneliness, madness and defiance. It is both inspiring and appalling, its cruellest details only made digestible by the restrained elegance of Winterson's prose.
This is certainly the most moving book of Winterson's I have ever read, and it also feels like the most turbulent and the least controlled.
added by thorold | editThe Guardian, Zoe Williams (Nov 4, 2011)
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To my three mothers:
Constance Winterson
Ruth Rendell
Ann S
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When my mother was angry with me, which was often, she said, 'The Devil led us to the wrong crib.'
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This memoir is a tough-minded search for belonging, for love, an identity, a home, and a mother by the author of "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit"--winner of the Whitbread First Novel award and the inspiration behind the award-winning BBC television adaptation "Oranges."… (more)

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