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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: 1987 Grove Press softcover. Tanning on page edges and inside cover. No writing or highlighting! Minor edge wear.
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The Passion Paperback – August 7, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (August 7, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802135226
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802135223
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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."

From Publishers Weekly

This arresting, elegant novel by the author of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit uses Napoleon's Europe as the setting for a tantalizing surrealistic romance between an observer of history and a creature of fantasy. Henri is a naive French soldier who works in Bonaparte's kitchen and worships the conqueror until his starving and diseased army begins to crumble. Disillusioned and longing to escape a desolate posting in the Russian winter, the young man meets and falls in love with Villanelle, a mysterious Venetian hoping to retrieve her own heart, which has literally been stolen and imprisoned by a noblewoman she once loved. Passiondescribed by the manipulative Villanelle as "somewhere between fear and sex"leads Henri on a desperate quest away from his beliefs and into an emotional labyrinth from which he may be unable to return. The slender story is sometimes lost in the strange brew of myth, fact and modernism, but British author Winterson's assured proseparticularly her stunning evocations of a glacial Russia and a decadent nighttime Venicedoes much to unify her unsettling tale.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The Passion Among the absolutely best books I have ever read, as well as one of my favorites.
D.Minard
It was mandatory for us to get but the most confusing part of it -- Winterson has too many editions of the single novel.
Tyler J. Eldridge
Then, this amazing story, with its razor-sharp insights, poetic prose, and intricate story brought me to life again.
oed@rocketmail.com

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Chicago Dreamer on July 8, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Perhaps all romance is like that; not a contract between equal parties but an explosion of dreams and desires that can find no outlet in everyday life. Only a drama will do and while the fireworks last the sky is a different colour. -Jeanette Winterson
* * *
Henri, a poor country boy joins the French military to follow his passion: Bonaparte. His tour of duty takes him on Napoleon's marches, and one is treated to an inside of look at being a soldier in Bonaparte's army. Napoleon's passion for fighting has him take his armies into Moscow. Concurrently, a woman gives birth to a child in Venice. The child's father is a Boatman, and those children, according to legend, can walk on water. The child turns out to be a girl, but is nonetheless a Boatman's Daughter. She has a passion for gambling, and meets the love of her life and finds another passion, in the process losing her heart. After her heart has been broken, she marries a cruel, fat Frenchman and exults in his passion for debasing her. Her destiny takes her to Moscow, where she meets Henri. Henri's passion for the Boatman's daughter proves to be no small thing in his own destiny.
Set in magical, eternal cities, encompassing a time which captivates the imagination, and written in beautiful prose, this work is emminently readable, and entirely riveting. There are beautiful heart-stopping phrases worth quoting on every page -- words which, by their beauty, make this spellbinding tale a lyrical journey of discovery. There are many kinds of passions in this piece, and following each to its end, and savoring each as it comes, is a bittersweet and very poignant experience. Do it! Highly Recommended!
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Debbie Lee Wesselmann TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 29, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jeanette Winterson's short novel, THE PASSION, is not as simple as its plot suggests. Henri, a Frenchman who has dedicated his young life to Bonaparte falls in love with Villanelle, a Venetian woman who cannot love him because her heart belongs to another woman. In her clear but poetic language, Winterson delves deeper - into the issues of the soul and the heart, of knowing when to cast aside passion and when to embrace it, of the heartless of both war and love. As she does so, she takes the reader through her own kind of passion play, where web-footed Villanelle can walk across water and a prophet with green slime in her hair speaks the truth. A defrocked priest, able to see across miles and into houses, is destroyed by "the spirits" - alcohol, to be precise - and in his death gives Henri a miracle. Bonaparte becomes the people's "little Lord in his simple uniform" who convinces thousands of men to follow him to their deaths. The question arises, what is evil and what is saintly? Where is the salvation in all the heartlessness? That these character can find any peace at all in the midst of chaos is the novel's final miracle, though it might not be the calm readers expect.
Despite the rampant symbolism and religious references, Winterson's grasp of language, imagery, and rhythm gives this a lighter touch than might be expected. After all, both Henri and Villanelle readily confess to "telling stories." And how can one take seriously a fat cook who, after passing out in a drunken stupor just before Napoleon arrives to inspect the kitchen, is rigged to an upright position by Henri and a friend? Who cannot laugh at Villanelle donning a codpiece to protect herself from lascivious men?
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
Having now read this book 14 times, I am still in awe of JW's understanding of the vulnerability of men and women in love. Every time I read this book I learn something new. This is the one book I always give as a gift and use quotes from frequently. The prose of this novel is simply the most beautiful and poetic I have ever read... and that's saying something coming from a man who is sometimes intimidated by feminist literature. The story of Henri and Villanelle will surely touch any one with a heart especially the line that reads, ' when I lie in her arms no dark days appear... and I truly believe our children will change the world.' For all those who have read The Passion, I highly recommend "Written on the Body". Heartfelt thanks to JW for writing such an incredible story!!!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
"Perhaps all romance is like that; not a contract between equal parties but an explosion of dreams and desires that can find no outlet in everyday life. Only a drama will do and while the fireworks last the sky is a different colour." -Jeanette Winterson
Henri, a poor country boy joins the French military to follow his passion: Bonaparte. His tour of duty takes him on Napoleon's marches, and one is treated to an inside of look at being a soldier in Bonaparte's army. Napoleon's passion for fighting has him take his armies into Moscow. Concurrently, a woman gives birth to a child in Venice. The child's father is a Boatman, and those children, according to legend, can walk on water. The child turns out to be a girl, but is nonetheless a Boatman's Daughter. She has a passion for gambling, and meets the love of her life and finds another passion, in the process losing her heart. After her heart has been broken, she marries a cruel, fat Frenchman and exults in his passion for debasing her. Her destiny takes her to Moscow, where she meets Henri. Henri's passion for the Boatman's daughter proves to be no small thing in his own destiny.
Set in magical, eternal cities, encompassing a time which captivates the imagination, and written in beautiful prose, this work is emminently readable, and entirely riveting. There are beautiful heart-stopping phrases worth quoting on every page -- words which, by their beauty, make this spellbinding tale a lyrical journey of discovery. There are many kinds of passions in this piece, and following each to its end, and savoring each as it comes, is a bittersweet and very poignant experience. Do it! Highly Recommended!
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