Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

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The shocking, heart-breaking - and often very funny - true story behind Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit

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

In 1985 Jeanette Winterson's first novel, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, was published. It was Jeanette's version of the story of a terraced house in Accrington, an adopted child, and the thwarted giantess Mrs Winterson. It was a cover story, a painful past written over and repainted. It was a story of survival.

This book is that story's the silent twin. It is full of hurt and humour and a fierce love of life. It is about the pursuit of happiness, about lessons in love, the search for a mother and a journey into madness and out again. It is generous, honest and true.

Available Formats

  • Paperback
    $19.99 RRP
    ISBN: 9780099556091
    Published: 01/05/2012
    Imprint: Vintage
    Extent: 240 pages
  • Hardback
    $29.99 RRP
    ISBN: 9780224093453
    Published: 01/11/2011
    Imprint: Jonathan Cape
    Extent: 240 pages
  • eBook
    ISBN: 9781446402115
    Published: 01/10/2011
    Imprint: Vintage Digital
    Extent: 240 pages
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"Winterson has rarely been interested in linear narrative; she moves between different periods in the past and present within each chapter...This structure and her searing honesty are a powerful combination." - Rosemarie Milsom, Newcastle Herald

"Unforgettable… It’s the best book I have ever read about the cost of growing up." - Daisy Goodwin, Sunday Times

"A searingly felt and expressed autobiography…Funny and profoundly hopeful – a tale of survival" - Kate Hamer, Metro

"Vivid, unpredictable, and sometimes mind-rattling memoir... This book... which had been funny enough to make me laugh out loud more times than is advisable on the No 12 bus - turns into something raw and unnerving" - Julie Myerson, Observer

"This is certainly the most moving book of Winterson's I have ever read... but it wriggles with humour... At one point I was crying so much I had tears in my ears. There is much here that is impressive, but what I find most unusual about it is the way it deepens one's sympathy, for everyone involved" - Zoe Williams, Guardian

"In the 26 years since the publication of her highly acclaimed first novel, Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson has proved herself a writer of startling invention, originality and style. Her combination of the magical and the earthy, the rapturous and the matter-of-fact, is unique. It is a strange and felicitous gift, as if the best of Gabriel Garcia Marquez was combined with the best of Alan Bennett... This remarkable account is, among other things, a powerful argument for reading... This memoir is brave and beautiful, a testament to the forces of intelligence, heart and imagination. It is a marvellous book and generous one" - Spectator

"Both inspiring and appalling, its cruellest details only made digestible by the restrained elegance of Winterson's prose" - Independent on Sunday

"An essential new book... she is a natural memoirist. The first half is a mature retelling of her masterwork, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit... The second half is a wry, urgent account of her hunt for her birth mother... Pressed on by the need for self discovery, the prose doesn't miss a beat... it feels risky and alive" - Evening Standard

"A dazzling autobiography, this is a love letter to literature as a means to survive" - GQ

"While Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is rich in autobiographical detail, it is a wide and bold an experiment in the memoir form as any so far written... in writing that is astonishingly naked and brave, Winterson reveals the legacy of that difficult and painful childhood... Much of this book is laugh-out-loud funny... Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is proudly, and sometimes painfully, honest.It is also, arguably, the finest and most hopeful memoir to emerge in many years and, as such, it should not be missed" - John Burnside, The Times

Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette Winterson OBE is the author of ten novels, including Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, The Passion and Written On The Body; a book of short stories, The World And Other Places; a collection of essays, Art Objects, as well as many other works, including children's books, screenplays and journalism. Her writing has won the Whitbread Award for Best First Novel, the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize, the E. M. Forster Award and the Prix d'argent at Cannes Film Festival.

Visit her website at www.jeanettewinterson.com