I thought I knew about Jeanette Winterson before I read this book. I had read two of her other books before--The Gap in Time, and Written on the Body. I knew that she was adopted in Manchester by a strict, Pentecostal couple, and I knew that she was a lesbian.
But, oh, how much I didn't know.
Winterson's upbringing was so starkly Dickensian...I could never have imagined that 1960s Manchester was so similar to 1860s London. Cold and impoverished.
Look no further for a defense of public libraries. Winterson's current life and career was only possible because of her expeditions to the local library for her mother's oddly beloved murder mystery books, where she stumbled into English Prose Literature A-Z. God bless her bravery and resilience.
Also, this is one of the most humbly honest accounts of an adoption reunification story I've ever encountered. Winterson is completely right that all other adoption stories are too preoccupied with a happy ending--expecting to fall in love right away with the found birth parent. I loved that we didn't get that fairy-tale happy ending here.
Overall, this book is beautiful and illuminating. If you haven't read Winterson's fiction, read this before you do, and you'll get a whole new perspective on things.