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Why be Happy When You Could be Normal?

Paperback edition released 12/04/2012

by Jeanette Winterson

Biographies & Autobiographies eBooks of the Month

LoveReading Expert Review of Why be Happy When You Could be Normal?

A 2013 World Book Night selection.

Shortlisted for the Specsavers National Book Awards 'UK Author of the Year' 2012.

A companion to Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, allowing Jeanette Winterson to explore the truth (often far worse than the fictionalised version) behind her autobiographical novel. The power of the written word to a child is brilliantly captured, books allowing the author to escape and find her own life – to write her own words.

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 In 1990 Jeanette Winterson published her funny, erudite, semi-autobiographical novel Oranges Are not the only Fruit about a young girl growing up in an evangelical family rebelling religiously, socially and sexually. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is the brilliant doppelganger to this novel, a memoir about belonging, exploring Winterson’s search for her birth mother, but also her love and relationship with books, as she writes, “Books don’t make a home…they are one, in the sense that just as you do with a door, you open a book, and you go inside. Inside there is a different kind of time and a different kind of space.” Brilliant for all fanatic readers and writers.

Susanna Crossman, from our Best Autobiographies Ever Blog. 


Sue Baker

Why be Happy When You Could be Normal? Synopsis

Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 15 December 2011.

Jeanette Winterson:


In 1985 Jeanette Winterson's first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit , was published. It tells the story of a young girl adopted by Pentecostal parents. The girl is supposed to grow up and be a missionary. Instead she falls in love with a woman. Disaster. Written when Jeanette was only twenty-five, her novel went on to win the Whitbread First Novel award, become an international bestseller and inspire an award-winning BBC television adaptation. Oranges was semi-autobiographical. Mrs Winterson, a thwarted giantess, loomed over that novel and its author's life. When Jeanette finally left her home, at sixteen, because she was in love with a woman, Mrs Winterson asked her: why be happy when you could be normal? This book is the story of a life's work to find happiness. It is a book full of stories: about a girl locked out of her home, sitting on the doorstep all night; about a tyrant in place of a mother, who has two sets of false teeth and a revolver in the duster drawer, waiting for Armageddon; about growing up in an northern industrial town now changed beyond recognition, part of a community now vanished; and, about the Universe as a Cosmic Dustbin. It is the story of how the painful past Jeanette Winterson thought she had written over and repainted returned to haunt her later life, and sent her on a journey into madness and out again, in search of her real mother. It is also a book about other people's stories, showing how fiction and poetry can form a string of guiding lights, a life-raft which supports us when we are sinking.

About This Edition

ISBN: 9780099556091
Publication date: 12th April 2012
Author: Jeanette Winterson
Publisher: Vintage
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 240 pages
Primary Genre Biographies & Autobiographies

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Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9780099556091
Publication date: 12/04/2012
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780224093453
Publication date: 27/10/2011
Format: Hardback

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About Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette Winterson OBE is the author of ten novels, including Oranges are not the Only Fruit, The Passion and Sexing the Cherry; a book of short stories, The World and Other Places; a collection of essays, Art Objects as well as many other works, including children's books, screenplays and journalism. Her writing has won the Whitbread Award for Best First Novel, the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize, the E. M. Forster Award and the Prix d'argent at Cannes Film Festival.

More About Jeanette Winterson

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