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.
Strange, interesting and full of beautiful imagery.
From the back of the book: "The Passion intertwines the destinies of two remarkable people: the soldier Henri, for eight years the faithful cook who follows Napoleon from the glory of Empure to Russian ruin, and Villanelle, the red-haired daughter of a Venetian boatman.... In Venice, both meet their singular destiny in a combustion of love and politics."
That sounds kind of puffed-up, when I read it over. So I will add my two cents: this is a tautly written story, in the crispest of prose, with a fast-moving plot.
This was not one of my favorite books but it was one of the most unique and interesting books that I've ever read. Some how I got the idea that the author was very young and as I was reading it I kept wondering how she got so wise so young. Well worth the read, people, hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Jeanette Winterson's exquisitely poetic prose made this book a fascinating read, but I was a little bit put off by the lesbian subplot (just not my preferred reading material).
Yes, I did. It's a different take on history.