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5 Books To Keep You Warm During the Holidays

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2. Sad and Funny and Happy and Sad

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?” is writer Jeanette Winterson’s wrenching, often pained and frequently hilarious (in an “oh the terrible irony of it” sort of way) of growing up as the adopted daughter of Mrs. Winterson.

There is a Mr. Winterson, a World War II veteran who works in a factory in the mill-town of Accrington and is quite dwarfed, in stature and household influence, by his wife. The Wintersons are Pentecostal and Jeanette grows up in a home with six books (the Bible being, of course, the main one). “Harrowing” and “miserable” are words that barely describe a girlhood which includes periodically being locked up in the coal-hole or out on the doorstep for her misbehaviors or, rather, her sins.

These include the reading of books beside the Bible — the library is the author’s refuge and she makes her way through all the writers from A-Z — and the recognition of her attraction to women. Somehow, Winterson finds herself studying literature at Oxford and becoming a writer and then a most highly lauded one with her Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit being made into a BBC production.

But “Why Be Happy When You Could Normal?” is more than a tale of becoming a writer. Loss and love (and language) are major themes in Winterson’s work and her memoir charts her search for the source of these. My sense on reading the last page was that the book did not quite seem finished and, being a longtime fan of Winterson, I am relieved as this means she will be offering us more stories.

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123 comments

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4:17AM PST on Dec 31, 2012

Thanks.

7:21PM PST on Dec 30, 2012

Nothing like a book on a cold winter evening when it is freezing cold outside and one dreams of Spring and hot chocolate!

6:33PM PST on Dec 30, 2012

use e-books, don't waste the trees....

5:12PM PST on Dec 30, 2012

Books can bring you into a world you've never known before . . . .

7:41AM PST on Dec 30, 2012

Hello Kristina! My three books will keep you warm and cosy.
Please see my website with videos, bio and info on my three books--

'Up The Wooden Hill -A Tale of Two WWII Families- (memoir)
'Coming of Age in California -English Style-' English teen in 1950s California (memoir)
'In Quest of The Old West -A Driving Diary-' An Anglo/German couple's journal of their jaunt of discovery

"Come visit my web site!"
You can see my site here: http://home.earthlink.net/~schaefer234/ Jill Schaefer

4:36AM PST on Dec 30, 2012

Thanks.

1:54AM PST on Dec 30, 2012

Thank you!

6:49PM PST on Dec 29, 2012

Books, reading offers a lot for the mind, body and spirit.

6:03PM PST on Dec 29, 2012

ty

3:31PM PST on Dec 29, 2012

Thank you.

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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