Winterson enfolds her seventh novel within the world of computers, and transforms the signal development of our time into a wholly human medium. The story is simple: an e-mail writer called Ali will compose anything you like, on order, provided you're prepared to enter the story as yourself and risk leaving it as someone else. You can be the hero of your own life. You can have freedom just for one night. But there is a price, and Ali discovers that she, too, will have to pay it. The PowerBook reinvents itself as it travels from London to Paris, Capri, and Cyberspace, using fairy tales, contemporary myths, and popular culture to weave a story of failed but requited love.
"Winterson adroitly combines the sensual with the metaphysical in her seventh novel, which, like her earlier works, is a love story but a love story that conflates notions of time, identity, and gender and explores the poetics of cyberspace. Ali, her narrator, sits at a computer and spins enchanting variations on the theme of forbidden love, stories offered to her restless online reader as means to escape the tyranny of the self. Ali opens windows on many intriguing realms, retelling the amorous tragedies of such mythic lovers as Lancelot and Guinevere and reaching a surprising climax in a story about a sixteenth-century Turkish girl who smuggles tulip bulbs to Holland disguised as a boy. Such fantasies alternate with suspenseful chapters set in contemporary Paris, London, and Capri in which a married woman and her lover, gradually revealed as female, make love and argue over the impossibility of their situation. Winterson's supple and radiant writing is itself a form of lovemaking, and as she renders cosmic her characters' predicament, she considers the thin line between the real and the invented. Donna Seaman"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Composed in tight, spare prose echoing Web communications, Winterson's seventh novel takes its cues from the Internet, where reality is implied but never inherent. Like the protagonist of her previous novel, Written on the Body, narrator Ali is not defined by sex. An Internet writer, she/he creates stories for people, offering "Freedom, just for one night," allowing her e-mail clients to be whoever they want to be. In return, they are required to understand that, like customers at Verde, the famous old costume shop in London where Ali lives, they may enter as themselves and leave as someone else. Such is the transformation Ali undergoes after a brief liaison in Paris with a married woman. Falling desperately in love, Ali follows the unnamed woman to Capri and attempts to convince her to leave her husband. Entwining this love story with accounts of Turkish tulip bulbs disguised as testicles, and tales of Lancelot and Guinevere, Winterson treads a slippery slope between linear storytelling and multidimensional cyberfiction. Most conventional, but also most egregious, is a digression recounting Ali's childhood as the adopted daughter of scrap-yard owners who are terrified of straying out into the Wilderness (the real world), but still hope that one day their daughter will find the Promised Land that exists in the heart. Winterson's dashing, sensually stylish writing is marred by heavy-handed symbolism, but the concept of transformation is adeptly juggled throughout. The brightly colored jacket, featuring two suggestively limp tulips, plays directly to the sensibility of Winterson's many fans. (Nov. 3) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved