|4.5 stars out of 5|
In Jeanette Winterson's retelling we move from London, a city reeling after the 2008 financial crash, to a storm-ravaged city in the US called New Bohemia. Her story is one of childhood friendship, money, status, video games and the elliptical nature of time. It tells in a hyper-modern way, full of energy and beauty, of the consuming power of jealousy on the one hand, and love, redemption and a lost child on the other.
This review is based on an uncorrected proof that I won in a GoodReads give away.
4.5 stars. I loved it. But this contains things that are catnip to me: a Shakespearean story retold by a talented writer. I saw The Winter’s Tale performed last year, so it was reasonably fresh in my mind as I read The Gap of Time. Winterson, Winter’s Tale, how perfect.
Winterson has the writing chops to pull this off. I love the playfulness of her writing in this novel—totally appropriate, as Shakespeare wrote plenty of humour into the original. And I think the bawdy Bard would approve of some of her cheeky observations about human sexuality.
A couple of the things that made me smile:
Xeno, describing computer games: “Have you ever noticed how ninety per cent of games feature tattooed white men with buzzcuts beating the shit out of the world in stolen cars? It’s like living in a hardcore gay nightclub on a military base.”
“There was a knock at the door. It was Clo and Lorraine LaTrobe. ‘We’ve come to wish you luck, little sister,’ said Clo. Lorraine LaTrobe was dressed in a skintight one-piece Lycra suit and spike heels. Her hair was piled on her head and dyed red like a stop light…’Hello, Mrs. Levy,’ said Lorraine. ‘We’ll be in the front row.’ She took Clo’s hand and led him off. ‘She’s quite a woman,’ said Shep. ‘She’s trans,’ said Pauline [Mrs. Levy]."
And of course, I love tons of literary references. Oedipus, Hemingway, several other Shakespearean works, plus a little reference to the author herself!
So why did I knock off half a star? The reason may not even be in the final version of the book. It’s the last 5ish pages, the explaining and philosophizing. Put it in an afterword. Put it in a post-script. Just don’t attach it to the actual tale as if it’s part of that story.
Looking forward to more volumes in the Hogarth Shakespeare series.