Sexing the Cherry by Jeannette Winterson is out there to thwart all our perceptions about reality be it the concept of time, or stories or strands of history or even how we may be connected to our ancestors.
What is the book about?
Bordering on the fabulist, Sexing the Cherry, is seemingly about a large woman named Dog Woman because of her fierce love for her dogs and her adopted son, Jordan. Set in London in the 1640s’ with the upheaval of Cromwell’s clash with the Royalists in the background, the story talks about these two protagonists’ views of each other. Jordan develops a love for sailing and travels the world to witness the quirks of the world and the Dog Woman worries about how Jordan cannot save his broken heart.
Interspersed within is a beautiful tale of twelve dancing princesses whom Jordan meets and who each retell their stories and subvert the very idea of the portrayal of a damsel in distress in a fairy tale.
Then the story seamlessly jumps into the modern time with similarly named characters whose stories are connected to their predecessors and could have easily been set in the 1640s’.
Time is fluid here in this story. The norms are juggled roughly. What is the past? What is the future? Are we connected to each other? Are we connected to the past? What about the future? What does the future hold.
The novel, Sexing the Cherry, will leave you with these lingering thoughts.
One last reason to pick it up?
The best aspect of Sexing the Cherry is that it subverts the dominant fairy tale trope of the woman being a passive consumer of the dubiously constructed, happily ever after. Though the entire story is not based on the twelve dancing princesses, each of their stories that they narrate to Jordan portrays them as feisty individuals who will not simply accept the fate meted out to them but take it in their own hand, even if it is violently, and break themselves free of that situation and establish their own path.
That was the highlight of this short novel!