BOOK REVIEW: LIGHTHOUSEKEEPING BY JEANETTE WINTERSON

lighthousekeeping

GENERAL INFORMATION

TITLE: LIGHTHOUSEKEEPING

AUTHOR: JEANETTE WINTERSON

PAGES: 232

PUBLISHER: HARPER PERENNIAL

YEAR: 2005

GENRE: LITERARY FICTION

COVER TYPE: PAPER BACK

www.amazon.co.uk/Lighthousekeeping-Jeanette-Winterson/dp/0007181507

www.jeanettewinterson.com

 

I have had an eye out for Winterson’s fiction since I read her memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? recently. When I saw Lighthousekeeping on the shelves on my local library I couldn’t resist.

BLURB FROM THE COVER

Motherless and anchorless, Silver is taken in by the timeless Mr Pew, keeper of the Cape Wrath lighthouse. Pew tells Silver ancient tales of longing and rootlessness, of ties that bind and of the slippages that occur throughout every life. One life, Babel Dark’s, a nineteenth century clergyman, opens like a map that Silver must follow. Caught in her own particular darkness, she embarks on an Ulyssian sift through the stories we tell ourselves, stories of love and loss, of passion and longing, stories of unending journeys that move through places and times, and of the bleak finality of the shores of betrayal…  

EXTRACT

My mother called me Silver. I was born part precious metal and part pirate.

OVERALL IMPRESSION

 

I thought Lighthousekeeping was okay. I really wanted to enjoy it because I was so impressed by Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? I don’t get on very well with ‘literary’ fiction. Lighthousekeeping is written in a sort of stream-of-consciousness style. I’m not a fan of this narrative technique.

REVIEW

I thought title was very good. Lighthousekeeping fits the novel quite well.

I think the characterisation is very good in Lighthousekeeping. Silver, Mr Pew and Babel Dark (cool name by the way) are very well written and believable. They are unique, interesting characters with very real flaws. I really felt connected to the characters.

Lighthousekeeping is very well written. The prose is very rich, lyrical and vivid. Winterson uses a lot of pretty words in Lighthousekeeping. I felt this got in the way of the story and acted as a barrier. There’s a good story in Lighthousekeeping. I found Babel Dark’s story fascinating. I felt the impact of much of the story is lost somehow because of the rich, lyrical language. Lighthousekeeping would have been great if Winterson used simple language.

I liked the way Winterson structures Lighthousekeeping. The novel is split into many sections. There are a few, unnumbered chapters in each section. Winterson uses a non-linear storyline. The story effortlessly moves back and forth in time. In the present, Silver learns all about Lighthousekeeping from Mr Pew who tells her stories. One of these stories is about Babel Dark, a clergyman who lives a double life. Winterson moves the narrative back and forth between these two events. There are no obvious signposts that the storyline has moved back to Babel Dark but Winterson gives us enough clues to work out what’s going on. I think this approach worked really well. I persevered with Lighthousekeeping so I could see what happened because of the structure.

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

Lighthousekeeping is well written. Winterson writes beautiful prose. I felt this lessened the impact of the actual events in the novel. I need a bit more than a lot of window-dressing and pretty words to get on with. I really liked the non-linear narrative and thought the characterisation was spot on. I’m sure if I would read Winterson again if Lighthousekeeping is an example of her style.

RATING

3 STAR RATING

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