Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

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A witty, acute, fierce, and celebratory memoir about a search for belonging- for love, identity, and a home. 


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When Jeanette finally left her home, at sixteen, because she was in love with a woman, Mrs Winterson asked her: why be happy when you could be normal?

This book is the story of a life's work to find happiness. It is a book full of stories: about a girl locked out of her home, sitting on the doorstep all night; about a tyrant in place of a mother, who has two sets of false teeth and a revolver in the duster drawer, waiting for Armageddon; about growing up in an northern industrial town now changed beyond recognition, part of a community now vanished; about the Universe as a Cosmic Dustbin. It is the story of how the painful past Jeanette Winterson thought she had written over and repainted returned to haunt her later life, and sent her on a journey into madness and out again, in search of her real mother. It is also a book about other people's stories, showing how fiction and poetry can form a string of guiding lights, a life-raft which supports us when we are sinking.

Jeanette WintersonJeanette Winterson was born in Manchester, England, and adopted by Pentecostal parents who brought her up. There were only six books in the house, including the Bible Malory's Morte d'Arthur, and it was this that started her life quest of reading and writing. Schooling was erratic but Jeanette had got herself into a girl's grammar school and later she read English at Oxford University. This was not an easy transition. Jeanette had left home at 16 after falling in love with another girl.

JeanetteWinterson at Oxford  After Oxford, she did odd jobs in the theatre and wrote her first novel, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, when she was 23. She dramatised Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit for BBCTV in 1990, and wrote a TV film, Great Moments In Aviation for BBC 2 in 1994. In 2006 Jeanette Winterson was awarded an OBE for services to literature.

Jeanette Winterson in LondonJeanette Winterson has won various awards around the world for her fiction and adaptations, including the Whitbread Prize, UK, and the Prix d'argent, Cannes Film Festival. She writes regularly for various UK newspapers, especially The Times and The Guardian. Jeanette Winterson lives in Gloucestershire in a small cottage in a wood. When she is not there, she is living over her shop (Verdes) in London in a 1790’s house she restored from derelict. She is experimenting with a part-move to Paris because she can’t resist the French.

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