As many of you may know, I am no longer a New Yorker, so please check out my new blog A Library of My Own. If you are just reading Life and Times, you are missing out. Thanks!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

1001 Book Update - Sexing the Cherry

While my husband and I were in Virginia a few months ago on a mini road trip/vacation, I popped into a used book store in Williamsburg. I got three books and for some reason all three had red on the cover. Weird. This was one that I picked up. I've heard of Jeanette Winterson and obviously the book has an interesting title. Sexing the Cherry (first published in 1989) had to be one of the most interesting and odd books I've read in a while. This is going to be a tough review. I've given up on my synopsis and am going with the Library Journal's one:

Bizarre images and bawdy laughter galvanize this splendid English farce about a prodigious giantess and her explorer son in 17th-century London. Jordan fetches the first pineapple to the court of Charles II, while his mother, The Dog Woman, wreaks vengeance upon Puritans in a brothel. The plague; the flying princesses who defy laws of the courts and gravity; Jordan's travels to the floating city and the botanical wonders of the New World--the tale nips easily in and out of history and fantasy. The two characters eventually merge into the grievously polluted life of modern London. Metaphors abound with polemics on environmental concerns and politics of past and present. Not for the Jackie Collins set: readers need a background in surrealism to follow this story.

Hmmm...interesting, right? So imagine this book as a weird fairy tale. But not our classic "happily ever after" ones. Imagine the dark ones, the Grimm ones, the ones where the sisters cut off their toes to fit their large feet into Cinderella's glass slipper. Yeah, those ones.

The story starts out during Charles II's reign (think the plague, regicide, etc). Enter a larger than life woman named Dog Woman (she breeds and keeps a pack of at least fifty dogs for sale and fighting). On her website, Winterson describes Dog Woman as the "only woman in English fiction confident enough to use filth as a fashion accessory". She finds a baby floating in the Thames (think Moses) and names him Jordan. He grows up craving travel, adventure, and searches for love. The narration switches between Dog Woman and Jordan.

I think I'll leave the review there. I'm torn on how I like it. Half the time I was thinking "Wow! I need to highlight that section." Other times I was totally disgusted or lost. But at only 192 pages it's a very short read and I will have to revisit and re-read it again.

And for some reason I am just fascinated by book covers. The cover above is the one on the edition I read. But here are various other covers...interesting:


  1. It sounds like an interesting book--I'll have to pick it up!

    I love all the different cover art. It's amazing how much artists' conceptions of a book can differ sometimes.

    Thanks for your comments on my blog! Have a great day!

  2. I'm not sure I've ever seen that many different covers for one book all in one place! And, hmm, I do have a bit of a background in surrealism ... perhaps I'll pick it up!

  3. Trish..

    It was first published in 1989 so it's a bit older than I had first thought when I picked up the book.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.