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Written on the Body is the fourth book by Jeannette Winterson. It is written in first person by a narrator whose name, gender and age are never revealed to us. The narrator is in love with a woman called Louise who is married to a cancer researcher, and the book is about the narrator's love and loss of Louise, and their story.
When she falls prey to cancer herself, the narrator chooses to forsake their love in favour of Louise's life, as they believe that only her husband can save her. Since they have been separated however the narrator finds it too much to bear and yearns to have Louise back in her life- however she has since moved away and there is no way of finding her or even knowing whether or not she is still alive. The story is therefore based around the couple's past and the narrator's reflections on it.
It's hard to read this book without imagining a gender for the narrator, particularly as s/he has such a strong 'voice'. I found it really interesting to have this challenge while reading; Winterson has written this book in such a way that forces the reader out of their expectations about gender stereotypes.
The genre of this book is also hard to tie down. It is clearly a love story and has elements of romance, but it is also about loss and grief, and the pleasure and the pain of being in love.
The language use in Written on the Body is very unique: Winterson uses incredibly lyrical, beautiful phrases to tell her story. This is a very original work, and a powerful love story told by a strong literary voice. I'm not sure it's for everyone, but I found it fascinating, provoking, and also very touching. It is nothing like Winterson's other works, so I recommend approaching it with an open mind to really understand what the book is about.