The Gap of Time – a too-close Shakespeare retelling by Jeanette Winterson

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, Uncategorized, Writing

A father and son discover a baby girl, and decide to look after her. In another time, a father grows convinced that his wife has been cheating with his friend, and that his daughter is not his own. He sends them away. And eventually, all the people and all the characters come together, etc etc etc.

The above is a plot description for both this book and for Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. This book is part of ‘Hogarth Shakespeare; a project to get renowned contemporary writers to adapt the bard’s plays, and a summary of this one appears in the front of the book. I was unfamiliar with the story so read it greedily, hoping for the ability to spot clever parallels and riffs from the original. Generally, however, I felt disappointed. Winterson’s version did not seem to add or grow the story at all, just to set it in a different time in a fairly straight way.

I am actually having a fairly difficult time remembering this book, which speaks volumes itself. Though there was some interest in the modern worlds and characters Winterson presented, none of them have stuck with me beyond a snippet or snatch. I can remember being quite gripped by the first section, where the girl is found and starts to grow up, but being generally less and less interested as things went on. The plot felt more and more forced; and for me actually the experience of reading the summary to start with meant I was expecting everything that happened, and it didn’t even happen in a very surprising way.

I also found that I didn’t really like any of the characters very much, and that the timing aspects of it were a bit confusing as some of it seemed to be set on the future and some in the present but they seemed the wrong way round.

So I wasn’t a huge fan of this – but will give Winterson another go as I’m sure this is not fully representative of her work.


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