And the book... well, it won the Whitbread Award for a First Novel in 1985 (the list of recipients is impressive) and I can certainly see why. I can't quite believe that this was Jeanette Winterson's first novel!
It tells the story of a girl named Jeanette, who is adopted by a devoutly Christian family and told that she is destined to be a missionary in Africa or some other 'heathen' place. She has a girlhood of bible quizes, religious retreats and church events and she really believes in all of it - she doesn't even falter when she goes to school and sees that she is different from the other children. Until what she believes in doesn't come through for her. Jeanette develops a relationship with another girl - and the consequences of this reveal the truth about the God-obssessed people she grew up with.
This is a book about growing up, about understanding yourself and about religious fanaticism. But it's also more than that - it's a beatifully written story, full of symbolism and myth, and it really makes you think about life and people's attitudes towards each other.
It's also full of great thoughts - one that compelled me to find a notebook and write it down is:
"Of course people will laugh at you, but people laugh at a great many things, so there's no need to take it personally."I can't pretend to have understood all the references in this book, I don't really know much about Christian religion, but I certainly got a lot out of the social commentary it includes. And wow, the beautifully crafted phrasing of certain thoughts and ideas... definitely worth reading!
And I have to add that this is the first book I can cross off my A-Z Challenge list for 2008!