Book: Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal - Jeanette Winterson

Rating: 5/5

When the author was about six weeks old she was given up for adoption. Her new mom was the grim, God-fearing Mrs Winterson, whose life mission it was to be a soldier for Jesus.

This outstanding memoir is an account of the author’s difficult childhood in an industrial northern England town and her painful search for identity and happiness.

The title of the book comes from the question Mrs W asks teenage Jeanette when she evicts her for having a girlfriend.

Later, when Jeanette boldly proclaims her sexuality, Mrs W responds with a burst varicose vein, spraying blood everywhere.

“We’ve just had the ceiling decorated,” she reproaches.

After she’s left home the pace changes and the young writer’s ambivalent journey to find her birth mother reads like a thriller.

Winterson fans will find much that throws light on the themes in her prizewinning novels, especially her autobiographical Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.And if, like me, you weren’t drawn to her before, you’ll change your mind.

Poetic, brave and funny, this flinty account of a young girl’s search for love is highly recommended.

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