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The Passion by Jeanette Winterson
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The Passion (original 1987; edition 1997)

by Jeanette Winterson (Author)

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2,973492,788 (4.07)131
Member:shmibs
Title:The Passion
Authors:Jeanette Winterson (Author)
Info:Grove Press (1997), 176 pages
Collections:Your library
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The Passion by Jeanette Winterson (1987)

  1. 00
    The Elephant's Journey by José Saramago (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Fictional characters interwoven with real historical figures and events ranging across the European continent.
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» See also 131 mentions

English (41)  Swedish (3)  Dutch (1)  Catalan (1)  Finnish (1)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (49)
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
A delightful little book. There is a magical or fairy-tale quality to this novel, particularly when we are in Venice. We hear stories of boatmen with webbed feet, the strange woman of the canal, horrific casino bets, and the island that houses madmen. Certain catch phrases repeat throughout the novel, including “I’m telling you stories. Trust me.” One is left wondering if the speaker is admitting to making up tales or trying to convince you of the truth of what’s been told. Henri and Villanelle are well-drawn characters representing different sorts of passion and responses to disappointment. Villanelle is a strong and wise young woman, while Henri is rather innocent and naive despite so many years in the army. In the end, while one might interpret their fate as tragic, I found it refreshing that each has a choice and exercised his/her own free will, understanding fully what they have given up. In life, as Villanelle would say, “you play, you win, you play, you lose. You play.” ( )
1 vote bookishblond | Oct 24, 2018 |
reread 9/6/2018. "I'm telling you stories. Trust me." About Henri, the soldier in Napoleon's army, and Villanelle, the web-toed, cross-dressing Venetian pickpocket who works in the Casino and is sold by her awful husband to service the French army. "It's somewhere between fear and sex. Passion." A louche and mysterious Venice so lovingly evoked... So brief and yet so rich and full. ( )
1 vote beaujoe | Sep 7, 2018 |
I have strange feelings about this book. The story itself was just okay for me, but I liked the historical details and marveled over the descriptions. What brought this up to a four star rating for me was the writing, the insights. I read this book as a used copy and my copy was heavily underlined. I have never underlined a work of fiction, although I have occasionally been tempted, but this book was crazy. Not only did I "get" why the previous reader underlined so many sentences, I found many more I wanted to underline myself. This author is a veritable "Book Of Quotations"! She just scatters beautiful insights left and right; about love, loss, life, parenthood, friendship, war, heroes, death, the weather, whatever. I almost found it distracting as it I kept pausing to reread stunning phrases, and it kept taking me out of the story. A short book, well worth reading. ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
This is a fascinating and unusual book: a historical novel set in France, Russia and Venice during Napoleon's war rampage, it is full of magical realism, philosophical quotes, friendship, violence, endurance, disguises, madness, and love. Yes, passion too, but rarely in the steamy sex-raged way you might expect.

Winterson's writing is very unusual too; the sentences are often quite short, as is the book, but both the sentences and novel include everything you need. This is not a book to skim. The images are clear, but the full meaning is sometimes elusive until later in the book. ( )
1 vote Connie-D | Feb 21, 2016 |
I picked this up because I'd read Winterson's 'Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit' years ago, and really liked it. But, while that was an autobiographically-inclined novel, this was quite different. A historical novel, it tells the story of a young French man who becomes Napoleon's cook, and a wild Venetian girl with a penchant for cross-dressing. These two unlikely characters' lives eventually intertwine, with hefty doses of the surreal and magical realism. Winterson is an extremely talented writer, but I found the experience to be a bit uneven at times - perhaps just because I liked the parts featuring Villanelle (the girl) much more than those with Henri. The book is vividly and poetically written; it is also philosophical and sad. ( )
1 vote AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
We know from her first two novels that Jeanette Winterson is not lacking in a sense of humor and a sense of the absurd, but these qualities are greatly attenuated in The Passion, and one must hope that she does not renounce them altogether in pursuit of romantic high seriousness. In other respects The Passion represents a remarkable advance in boldness and invention, compared to her previous novels,
added by jburlinson | editNew York Review of Books, David Lodge (pay site) (Nov 29, 1988)
 

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Winterson, Jeanetteprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tamminen, LeenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
You have navigated with raging soul and far from the paternal home, passing beyond the seas' double rocks and now you inhabit a foreign land.

Medea
Dedication
For Pat Kavanagh

My thanks are due to Don and Ruth Rendell
whose hospitality gave me the space to work.
To everyone at Bloomsbury, especially Liz Calder.
To Philippa Brewster for her patience.
First words
It was Napoleon who had such a passion for chicken that he kept his chefs working around the clock. What a kitchen that was, with birds in every state of undress; some still cold and slung over hooks, some turning slowly on the spit, but most in wasted piles because the Emperor was busy.
Quotations
I'm telling you stories. Trust me.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
In 1985 Jeanette Winterson won the Whitbread Award for best first fiction for the semi-autobiographical Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, an often wry exploration of lesbian possibility bumping up against evangelical fanaticism. She was 25. Two years later, The Passion, her third novel, appeared, the fantastical tale of Henri--Napoleon's cook--and Villanelle, a Venetian gondolier's daughter who has webbed feet (previously an all-male attribute), works as a croupier, picks pockets, cross-dresses, and literally loses her heart to a beautiful woman. Written in a lyrical and jolting combination of fairy tale diction and rhythm and the staccato, the book would be a risky proposition in lesser hands. Winterson has said that she wanted to look at people's need to worship and examine what happens to young men in militaristic societies. The question was, how to do so without being polemical and didactic? Only she could have come up with such an exquisite answer. In the end, Henri, incarcerated on an island of madmen, becomes aware that his passion, "even though she could never return it, showed me the difference between inventing a lover and falling in love. The one is about you, the other about someone else."
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0802135226, Paperback)

In 1985 Jeanette Winterson won the Whitbread Award for best first fiction for the semi-autobiographical Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, an often wry exploration of lesbian possibility bumping up against evangelical fanaticism. She was 25. Two years later, The Passion, her third novel, appeared, the fantastical tale of Henri--Napoleon's cook--and Villanelle, a Venetian gondolier's daughter who has webbed feet (previously an all-male attribute), works as a croupier, picks pockets, cross-dresses, and literally loses her heart to a beautiful woman. Written in a lyrical and jolting combination of fairy tale diction and rhythm and the staccato, the book would be a risky proposition in lesser hands. Winterson has said that she wanted to look at people's need to worship and examine what happens to young men in militaristic societies. The question was, how to do so without being polemical and didactic? Only she could have come up with such an exquisite answer. In the end, Henri, incarcerated on an island of madmen, becomes aware that his passion, "even though she could never return it, showed me the difference between inventing a lover and falling in love. The one is about you, the other about someone else."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:19 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Henri had a passion for Napoleon and Napoleon had a passion for chicken. From Boulogne to Moscow Henri butchered for his Emperor and never killed a single man. With a de-frocked priest and a midget groom, Henri witnessed the scourge of Europe. In Venice, the city of chance and disguises, a great beauty was born with the webbed feet of her boatman father. In the casino, Villanelle learned that what people risk reveals what they value - she gambled her heart and lost. For eight years the soldier-chef watched young men die and his love for Napoleon turned to hate. Passion does not take disappointment well. He found the Venetian beauty whose heart was lost and together they fled frozen Russia to the canals of darkness and paradox.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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