With twilit embers glowing on the deep green ridges in the distance, the Barga Book Club members met in the walled garden of Margaret’s home on the Fornacetta to discuss The Passion by Jeanette Winterson. Retiring inside as the unseasonably cool evening progressed, they enjoyed the sumptuous meal provided by the members before diving into the discussion at hand.
The selection of this title came as a way to explore more of Winterson’s work after we’d read her intriguing autobiographical novel Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal.
Many book club members found this novel, in Kerry’s words an overly glib mish mash of historical fiction, frustrating, irritating, even pointless. Salene, just didn’t get it, Bill called it turgid, and said it didn’t hold together. Margaret, who forced herself to ‘finish the damned thing!’, and reread sections to try to get it, couldn’t see the passion anywhere, deemed it trite and pretentious and passionately hated it.
On the positive side Cynthia praised the, every now and then, luminous writing, and likened it to a surreal landscape of the human condition, but felt that the passion allusion was overdone. Isobel identified strongly with the poignant imagery of instability.
Helen was particularly drawn into the story, and felt the passion imagery and mix of mythology and fantasy related strongly to the author’s driven character. She felt it was skillfully well written and well crafted, written as though it was by a well informed observer of the journey. It was unusual but will be considered a modern classic. Elisabeth cited its novella quality, and mentioned the other criteria by which the novella should be judged, more developed than a short story but less than a novel, the slice of life approach, or that this was like a collection of short stories that came together and that Winterson is to be praised as experimenting with a form of writing. The story was full of eloquent descriptions. The content left Elisabeth convinced Winterson was obsessed with her sexuality and the book rife with her convictions with lesbianism.
The passionate but always congenial discussion thus made sense, was concluded and they dove into the exquisite desserts.
Thank you very much to everyone who participated and here is the list of upcoming titles:
A Heart So White by Javier Marias, 31 July at Pietro and Marijke’s
The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh September date and venue to be announced.
The Deadly Sisterhood by Leonie Frieda October date and venue to be announced
Article by Kerry