Books read at an impressionable age always leave you astounded. You cannot get more of them. You reread them at various stages in life and if it manages to evoke similar feelings in you, like the first time, then the book maybe is meant for you. Few books fit into this category. Fewer books make it there from the hundreds and thousands of books we read in a lifetime. It is almost like a personal treasure – this small collection that touches you every time you pick any book from it. For me, a lot of books fit into this, and “Written on the Body” by Jeanette Winterson is one of them.
I read this book for the first time when I was just about to come out to my family. It is one of those books which will always be close to my heart. It somehow gave me the required courage to do what I did. I don’t know how, but it did and at that time, it mattered the world to me. It made me want to go up to Ms. Winterson and let her know how much I loved her book and how grateful I was to her for writing it. Books do that. Any art form does. Anything that can manage to touch you to that extent.
“Written on the Body” is a love story as most of Ms. Winterson’s books. It is a meditation on love and desire. It is about how maybe love sustains itself no matter what the odds. It is everything to do with extraordinary passion and unrequited love at its worst. It is about the body – every single part of it, every pore of the skin, every surface that the beloved touches. The book is narrated by a nameless and genderless being about his or her love for a married woman named Louise. The book talks of their affair, their love, their desire and the betrayal by the body.
Winterson’s writing is beyond magical. She knows which nerve to touch on, which emotion to carry through, which rawness to portray that makes the reader wonder about his or her life. She speaks of how lovers know each other’s bodies. How they know every scar, every detail, every birthmark, every crevice of the body and how love gets to those places. The book is unusual in its narrative, however once you get the hang of it, you will not let go of it. The prose is lyricism at its best. Winterson’s expressions and her details about love and the lovers are not to be missed. The book is clever as well, but above all it is about the nature of love and how we do not give up on the lover, even if the love is doomed.