Customer Reviews


128 Reviews
5 star:
 (78)
4 star:
 (23)
3 star:
 (10)
2 star:
 (8)
1 star:
 (9)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking
This is an extraordinary narrative that focuses on the pleasure and the pain associated with being in love. An individual who has no name, no gender and no age tells the story to us. We as readers can easily relate to the narrator's feelings despite the fact that there is nothing distinctive or tangible about the narrator for us to relate to. The fact is the narrator is...
Published on December 27, 2001 by Robert Ortiz

versus
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars lovely prose, mundane topic
This tale is derivative -- see, for instance, The End of the Affair, which is the same thing, only different. But it is a skillfully done soft porn tale of obsession and intellectualized lust. The voice of the narrator, self absorbed and libidinous, is nicely unisexed, so even at the end of the book the reader is still wondering ... though, of course, we know, don't we...
Published on March 29, 2003


‹ Previous | 1 213 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking, December 27, 2001
By 
This review is from: Written on the Body (Paperback)
This is an extraordinary narrative that focuses on the pleasure and the pain associated with being in love. An individual who has no name, no gender and no age tells the story to us. We as readers can easily relate to the narrator's feelings despite the fact that there is nothing distinctive or tangible about the narrator for us to relate to. The fact is the narrator is swimming in a sea of beautiful emotions where I'm sure many of us would love to drown. We hear about the narrator's intense relationship with Louise, a beautiful woman with flaming red hair who is married to a stodgy, fuddy-duddy named Elgin. The writing is so descriptive and captivating, one can really understand how it must feel to love someone with every last ounce of their existence. Jeanette Winterson takes us to a sensual place where many of us have visited at one time or another or would love to visit again. With beautifully descriptive and insightful writing, wry wit and splashes of comedy, "Written on the Body" is a book you'll want to read over and over again! Highly recommended!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant and beautiful breakdown of stereotypes and love, November 12, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Written on the Body (Paperback)
Assigned this book in a Recent British Literature course, I can't tell you how disappointed I was that I had to wait all the way until the *end* of the semester to read it. I was so eager, I had to finally learn patience just to wait three weeks before we discussed it.
This has to be one of (I should say *the*) best books I have ever read. I suggest it to everyone. For its writing, its content, its beauty, its magic. To use the art of a genderless narrator is absolutely divine and original. I can't think of any other piece of literature that has even tried to break from the stereotypes of love, of gender.
Instead of getting the stereotypes, we really get to experience *LOVE* for what it truly is: an intense emotion. Rather than worrying if the boy is going to "stand up" the girl, or the girl is going to be late, Winterson analyzes love by tissue. By the body. By the spirit.
So many books have tried to tell love stories, whether it be a Disney Cinderella, or a Dickens Pip and Estella. But they have not succeeded completely, impeded, stopped by the normal beliefs of everyday society.
Rather than boring the life out of anyone that reads this review, I'll stop at this, the first line of the book:
"Why is the measure of love loss?"
Tell me, do you know? Either way, you should read this book and truly experience love in a way you never thought possible: with purity.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Such love, such beautiful, sensual space..., January 30, 2000
By 
R. Peterson "I'm worldwide..." (Leverett, MA (for the moment)) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Written on the Body (Paperback)
This is one of the most powerful and magnificent love stories I have ever read.  Winterson, a young British writer, has crafted a tale in which her narrator is genderless and the lover is a married woman.  Impossible you say?  It says on the back cover, "The narrator...has neither name, nor gender; the beloved is a married woman...as Winterson chronicles their consuming affair, she compels us to see love stripped of cliches and categories, as a phenomenon as visceral as blood and organs, bone and tissue..."  What makes the novel such a powerful love story is just that.  Love without the "cliches", the boundaries set by the culture and the society.  The bigger question that is raised by this book is one of the writing 'voice'.  Can a woman successfully write in a man's voice?  Or a man in a woman's?  Charles Dickens was once derided by a friend for having written "Bleak House" in a woman's voice.   Because my sister (an English teacher at U. Mass, Amherst) teaches a class on Men and Women in Literature, she asked me to read this with an eye for any written clues that might identify the narrator's gender.   Winterson is so clever and such a brilliant writer that there were both many and none!  The reader is left not so much with the beauty of the love story or the lyrical prose, but rather with the question of literary voices.  A fascinating book
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A secret code only visible in certain lights..., November 9, 2005
This review is from: Written on the Body (Paperback)
"Cheating is easy. There's no swank to infidelity. To borrow against the trust someone has placed in you costs nothing at first. You get away with it, you take a little more and a little more until there is no more to draw on. Oddly, your hands should be full with all that taking but when you open them there is nothing there."

So says Winterson's Narrator at one point in the story about his/her transgressions when it comes to his/her married lovers. This is an attitude that is not carried into completion in the book, as it later becomes very obvious that infidelity is infinitely difficult...when you find the right woman.

But I jump aside of myself, let me start from the beginning, and talk about Winterson's Hero/heroine.

The Narrator in the story is a nameless, genderless character, but when it comes to emotional morality this character knows exactly what is right vs. what is wrong. However, that does not stop him/her from being unethical, and having few qualms about it. This is proven in the way he/she continues to become entangled in these attractions and relationships with involved or married people. Whether this is something the narrator is aware of is uncertain, but it makes for a wonderful foundation to this tremendous story of love and loss.

After numerous failed relationships the narrator becomes involved with a married woman named Louise. Louise is a stunning Titian beauty married to a man who is, quite literally, married to his work. He needs her for little, as he gets most of his sexual gratification elsewhere, so when she decides to become involved with the Narrator it is of little surprise that she informs her husband of this. Whether she initially became involved in the affair just to get back at her husband is unsure, but it backfires when Louise and the Narrator fall into a deep, passionate love for one another and her husband becomes annoyed with it. How he gets his revenge is poignant and brilliant... he informs the Narrator that Louise is dying from leukemia and that he can help to stretch out her time to live, if the Narrator agrees to never interfere in their life again.

What happens in the remainder of the book is so heartbreaking I cannot even convey it properly. The Narrator declines into a bout of depression so severe it makes the reader ache for him/her. The depths of longing, the proclamations of love and worship of the lost Louise, and the self deprecation at allowing her husband to have the final say are so dramatic that they are practically Shakespearean in execution. One has not felt this amount of chaos and pathos since Romeo first beheld Juliet and realized she was the daughter of his enemy. We are with the narrator for every second of his/her heartbreak, every painful moment and decision he/she makes as a result of his/her grief becomes our pain, our grief, our wish for release. The pain of watching someone die from cancer is hard enough, the pain of watching someone you love with every core of you being die from cancer is death ten times over... and Winterson's character makes us feel as if it is our loss of love that is at stake... not his/hers.

It's almost needless to say that I loved this book, but I will say it again. I loved this book. I can't say that enough. Winterson's work is always wonderful; her skillful usage of classical stories and metaphors is something I relish. (In this case she spoke much of Caliban from "The Tempest", which I was quite happy about.) However, with this book Winterson did two things that I did not expect. One was that she made me feel as if I was the Narrator, and that was an utterly powerful literary experience... the second thing was that she made me feel as if reading any other writer's work that was not her own would be a waste of time. I regret that it took me as long as it did to discover this book. Rest assured, it will never leave my bookshelves now.

"Articulacy of fingers, the language of the deaf and dumb, signing on the body longing. Who taught you to write in blood on my back? Who taught you to use your hands as branding irons? You have scored your name into my shoulders, referenced me with your mark. The pads of your fingers have become printing blocks, you tap a message onto my skin, tap meaning into my body. Your Morse code interferes with my heart beat. I had a steady heart before I met you, I relied upon it, it had seen active service and grown strong. Now you alter it's pace with your own rhythm, you play upon me, drumming me taut. Written on the body is a secret code only visible in certain lights; the accumulations of a lifetime gather there. In places the palimpsest is so heavily worked that the letters feel like Braille. I like to keep my body rolled away from prying eyes. Never unfold too much, tell the whole story. I don't know that Louise would have reading hands. She has translated me into her own book."
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Love Story, Wonderful Writing, August 6, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Written on the Body (Paperback)
"Written on the body is a secret code only visible in certain lights; the accumulations of a lifetime gather there. In places the palimpsest is so heavily worked that the letters feel like braille. I like to keep my body rolled up away from prying eyes. Never unfold too much, tell the whole story. I didn't know that Louise would have reading hands. She has translated me into her own book." -Jeanette Winterson
Set in England, a Russian translator speaks about the preoccupation that this person has with women -- a series of women, until Louise comes into this person's life, transforming it forever. Their Love Story is beautifully detailed and lovingly chronicled in heartstopping prose. This writer can create unforgettable paragraphs. Her book is refreshingly put together, and she has used abundant creativity in constructing loving passages, one after another, written on the body -- or rather about the body, and the protagonist's insatiable longing for Louise.
Poignant, pensive, and beautiful, this book is a joy. The Love Story is magical and wondrous and makes one's heart flutter to read about it. Highly recommended!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful Story Telling, June 23, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Written on the Body (Paperback)
Wintersen is a story teller. She does not write in the bland narrative most authors use. If you are looking for a book that hands you the plot, this is not the one.
Personally, I don't understand why anyone would whine about not knowing the gender of the narrator. If you read the book, you'll find it isn't important to the story. If you find it bothers you, I would ask yourself why. I think part of why the narrator's gender is not revealed is to get the reader to examine personal gender assumptions and biases. What exactly is it that is so disturbing about not knowing?
This book will also challenge your assumptions about what concepts such as love, lust, passion, and emotion truly encompass. I think it will also make most readers question their assumptions concerning those concepts, at least to the extent that they clash with those held by the characters. (An old zen saying, "the pear is not as the observer wills" comes immediately to mind.)
If you're prone to being swept away by romantic lyricism, I would read this book twice; once to indulge in the feeling, and once to indulge in the thinking.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful love story, wonderful writing!!, July 8, 2000
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Written on the Body (Paperback)
"Written on the body is a secret code only visible in certain lights; the accumulations of a lifetime gather there. In places the palimpsest is so heavily worked that the letters feel like braille. I like to keep my body rolled up away from prying eyes. Never unfold too much, tell the whole story. I didn't know that Louise would have reading hands. She has translated me into her own book." -Jeanette Winterson
A Russian translator speaks about the preoccupation that this person has with women -- a series of women, until Louise comes into this person's life, transforming it forever. Their Love Story is beautifully detailed and lovingly chronicled in heartstopping prose. This writer can create unforgettable paragraphs. Her book is refreshingly put together, and she has used abundant creativity in constructing loving passages, one after another, written on the body -- or rather about the body, and the protagonist's insatiable longing for Louise.
Poignant, pensive, and beautiful -- this book is a joy. The Love Story is magical and wondrous and makes one's heart flutter to read about it. I shall treasure my memories of it. Highly recommended!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars lovely prose, mundane topic, March 29, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Written on the Body (Paperback)
This tale is derivative -- see, for instance, The End of the Affair, which is the same thing, only different. But it is a skillfully done soft porn tale of obsession and intellectualized lust. The voice of the narrator, self absorbed and libidinous, is nicely unisexed, so even at the end of the book the reader is still wondering ... though, of course, we know, don't we -- because the London tabs have told us.
Still, certainly a lovely bedtime read and a book to share with a lover.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ...delicate shadow play..., September 19, 2006
By 
David Alston (Chapel Hill, NC, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Written on the Body (Paperback)
Jeanette Wintersen has long been an adventurous writer, always willing to play with forms and conventions, and after reading a great number of them, WRITTEN ON THE BODY is still my favorite.

This is an exquisite novel - an independent-minded sensualist seduces a classically beautiful woman, a woman married to a rather stodgy medical researcher. As the two embark upon their affair, our narrator flashes back upon past exploits and misadventures, gradually conjuring a sort of personal metaphysics of passion along the way. We are not told the gender of our narrator, though a few stray clues (in either direction) do crop up on occasion.

In anyone else's hands this would be quite a gimmick, and it could have led to some miserable bog of overly tumescent verbiage (the kind I'm typing out at this very moment); but Wintersen is a master at handling language, and her technical skill and wit turn this into a most playful game of intrigues: no one enters, or gets entered, though a urinal does get blown up, and an ex named Bathsheba is occasionally reflected upon. Characters alternatively embody and discard the cliches and stereotypes of both genders, more or less at will.

Wintersen's delicate narrative, all shadow play, does gradually gather a certain force in spite of it's shimmery textures: I read this in one sitting, dazzled at many levels. Very highly recommended.

-David Alston
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I don't read novels, especially romance, March 2, 2001
This review is from: Written on the Body (Paperback)
So I will preface this review with the fact that I almost never read novels, and really never read romance. However, a friend handed me this book and I decided to give it a chance. I do love literature, and to me this never fealt like another cheap paperback romance, of which an author might write 5 a year. I felt this book to be a true piece of literature, and completely worthy as such. So for those of your out there like me, you might want to give this a try.
She creates complete atmospheres with word, and beautiful, sensual descriptions of her world both inside her mind, and outside of it. And my love for the European lifestyle only get me more excited about reading this. High Recomend, check it out.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 213 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Written on the Body
Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson (Paperback - February 1, 1994)
$14.95 $12.46
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.