Jeanette Winterson is commonly known for her novel Oranges are not the only Fruits, however I plead with the people to not just read this book. I will admit, this book was on my reading list at university; I had not even heard of it until then. Alongside Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus, Winterson’s The Passion is also one of the novels that I greatly appreciate my university, of introducing me to.
The Passion is about a man named Henri who decides to leave his quiet village in France, to help win the war. During the war he encounters Villanelle, a venetian who wishes to return to her hometown. Although this novel is short, it does not lack emotion. This novel is intense, gripping and as its title suggests, it’s full of passion. The Passion is divided into four parts, similar to volumes, however it has no chapters. The first part ‘The Emperor’ reflects Henri’s thoughts about being in the war and his experiences that follow. The second part , ‘The Queen of Spades,’ reveals Villanelle’s background through her job at a casino in Venice. Both of these parts in the novel lead the characters to ‘The Zero Winter.’ When their paths cross in the third part, they learn how to quickly adapt to change and what the true meaning of perseverance means. I can guarantee that you will not want to put the book down; the closer you are to the end, the more intense this novel becomes.This novel falls under several genres such as romance and adventure.
Jeanette Winterson has written The Passion so eloquently that each description should be savoured as they are all rich in detail. Forbidden love has been written in such a way that no one is to blame. For example, this is no Romeo & Juliet , as it was their families to blame for their suicide. With a love triangle cast, it is difficult to break as it is questionable as to whether the characters believe that they are in one. When the reader has acknowledged this, I have no qualms saying that you will feel like yelling at the book, hoping that the characters can hear you. With all of this mention of love and romance, I must insist that this novel is not all about love. Winterson’s website describes The Passion as a novel about, ‘survival and broken-heartedness, and cruelty and madness.’ The Passion questions risks as it finds the truth to what you value. Thus there is a dominant theme of gambling. Although this may seem subtle at first, it gradually appears throughout the separate parts. The Passion uses the theme of gambling to bring people closer together, by the understanding of what people want to risk, in order to get what they want. Is it possible to risk your sanity to love and to still remain in tact? So if anyone has a heart, I dare you to risk yours and read this novel. You may even find your passion within it.