Who could resist such a title? My first thoughts as I was reading this biography were that although the story is a sad one, Winterson does not come across as a victim.
She was adopted when she was six months old by a devoutly religious couple. They were strict and the mother emotionally withdrawn. No books were allowed, except the bible, and punishments were very harsh. Instead her experiences, which include an exorcism have given Winterson plenty to write about. The way she writes is often humourous and non-judgemental of her parents and seeks to understand them. However she is haunted by her experiences and is forever looking for a home and someone she can love and trust.
My second thoughts were how other authors like Joan Didion and Jeanette Walls have also written about their sad and heartbreaking experiences but because they are such good writers we as readers are uplifted by their stories. They do not let sentiment get in the way of the story and seem to want to focus on what good can come out of their experiences.
The final chapters focus on Wintersons search in later years for her biological mother. Her mantra is she must have loved me if she kept me for 6 months. She finds her mother and once again Winterson handles this with care and humility.
Winterson leaves us with more questions than answers about early childhood experiences and how they form us.Published by Jonathan Cape, part of Vintage Publishing
Reviewed by Chris Page