The Passion

The Passion

by Jeanette Winterson

Paperback

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The Passion 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although (to me) it took a great effort to get through the first two-ish chapters, this book was magic. I absolutely had to put it down several times throughout the read because I had to write down thoughts and phrases that the book inspired. Although my recommendation sounds a bit dreamy and choppy, honestly every person who has taken me up on reading this excellent book has thanked me.
Laurenbdavis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel is told from the point of views of two characters -- a young man, Henri, an army cook for a chicken-obsessed Napoleon, and Villanelle, a Venetian web-footed female cross-dresser. Henri falls in a kind of hero-worshiping love with Napoleon but after the invastion of Russia becomes utterly disillusioned. Villanelle falls in love with a mysterious woman who, literally, takes her heart and keeps it hidden in a Venetian house. Later she marries a senior cook who is Henri's archenemy and something of a grotesque, but she later leaves him. Alas, he chases her and when he finds her, sells her off as a prostitute to the French officers. Thus, Henri and Villanelle's stories collide when she meets Henri in Russia, where Henri is trying to survive with an ex-priest. Henri becomes enamored of Villanelle and follows her to Venice, where she hopes to reclaim her heart. Sadly, Villanelle's husband also follows them and things don't work out very well for pour Henri, who looses more than his mind. With THE PASSIONWinterson moves firmly away from the traditional novel form -- she mixes history and myth and fairy tales. The recurring line, "Trust me, I'm telling you stories" becomes Winterson's refrain and leitmotif, not only in this work, but in her the rest of her fiction as well. Indeed, one could say it is the major theme of her work, along with the sexual ambiguity of her characters. All Winterson's work, and this is no exception, are loaded with scriptural references and biblical allusions (which is no surprise to those of us who have read an admired her semi-autobiographical novel, ORANGES ARE NOT THE ONLY FRUIT. She also mines the liminal space between passion and obsession, as well as "truth" and "fiction" and sexual identify..A firm post-modernist, Winterson uses authorial interruptions throughout the novel to directly address the reader, and it is this authorial voice that provides two fairy tales that comment on the main story. I must admit, most post-modernists leave me cold, so chilly is the detachment of their prose and perspective (and often so over-clever), but Winterson's desperation to make you understand reminds me, in an odd way, of James Agee's LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS MEN. She wants so much to make you understand, and she has so much compassion for her broken, emotionally-battered characters, that I can't help but be swept up in their stories. The fact she's such a brilliant wordsmith doesn't hurt.
Cariola on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well, I guess I am not a fan of magical realism! I had heard raves about Winterson's work, so I picked up this novel to give her a try. While I enjoyed it and agree that it was well written, there was nothing here that left much of an impression on me, aside from the coldness and ugliness of war. I agree with the reviewer who seemed to feel that the merger of Henri's and Villanelle's stories didn't quite work, and that the author seemed much more interested in the latter.
JenLynnKnox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Magical realism set in wartime, told with a delicate lacing of philosophy, religion and perfectly-flawed romance. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
terena on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Her best work. Set in Venice in the 17th century. A love story and fantasy.
melonbrawl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Napoleon / wore a black hat / ate lots of chicken / and conquered half Europe...
dancingwaves on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not my favourite by her (that still remains Written on the Body), but an interested read about, of course, passion, but also the masks we wear and the disguises that get us through love and life. Some really stellar lines that made me sit back and think.
ignorantleafy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was astonishing. I went in, never having read Winterson before, totally disbelieving the title. And yet, it is a work of passion... not embarrassment, not disavowal, but the kind of passion whose thighs you could bite. It's written with obvious relish. I enjoyed the hell out of this book.
bexaplex on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Passion is very cream puffy - the lines are beautiful, but the plot and character development are not very satisfying. The structure of the story - first Henri's backstory, then Villanelle's, their meeting, and finally the consequences of their meeting - imply a romeo and juliet-like tragedy. Since the tragedy is Henri's, Villanelle almost seems like a side character given too much screen time because the author thought her much more interesting that the main story. She gets her heart back, she drives Henri crazy and seems to go on her merry way with a great big house in her home town. What was the price she paid for passion?
BrianDewey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Winterson, Jeanette. The Passion. Grove Press, New York, 1987. First read this book in 1996 while visiting grad schools---I remember finishing the book when I was in Ithaca looking at Cornell. I decided to re-read the book because it mezmerised me so much the first time. I still love Winterson when her writing is at its most mythic and imaginiative, and I think she is in peak form in this book. At its heart, this is a love story of the most unusal kind. Henri, a deserter from Napoleon's army, falls in love with Villanelle. It's an odd, magical love that eventually drives him insane. The story has it all: war, sex, madness, and a beautiful writing style that seems inspired by music with its repeated phrases.
wordwench on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My favourite book of all time. I have never read a book as good as this, before or since. Love it!
Ladydncing on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set during the Napoleonic Wars, two interesting, yet unforgettable characters (Henri, a simple French soldier and Villanelle, the red-haired, web-footed daughter of a Venetian boatman) meet and start a very unusual intimate relationship. I am a fan of Magical Realism, however didn't find this book satisfying... left me wanting more!
wendyrey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set in the time of the Napoleon the interlocking stories of a young French soldier and Venetian boatman's. Love and passion, murder and betrayal . Well written magical realism.
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Entertaining and interesting historical perspective.
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