The Back of the Book: Motherless and anchorless, Silver is taken in by the timeless Mr Pew, keeper of the Cape Wrath lighthouse. Pew tells Silver ancient tales of longing and rootlessness, of ties that bind and of the slippages that occur throughout every life. One life, Babel Dark’s, a nineteenth-century clergyman, opens like a map that Silver must follow. Caught in her own particular darknesses, she embarks on an Ulyssean sift through the stories we tell ourselves, stories of love and loss, of passion and longing, stories of unending journeys that move through places and times, and the bleak finality of the shores of betrayal.
NotJustLaura’s Review: When I’d finished reading this book I gave my head a scratch and said, ‘What a peculiar book.’ Then I put off writing this review for a week or so in the hope that it’d all make more sense once I’d slept on it. It doesn’t. If I’m honest, I’m struggling even to assign it a genre. Magical realism, perhaps? That’s not something I usually read so maybe that’s why, while I enjoyed the read, I’m struggling to tell you about it.
Ms Winterson has woven together two – or is it three? – narrative strands. We meet Silver who is soon orphaned. We meet Pew who keeps the lighthouse. And we meet Dark who certainly is. Some of the situations Ms Winterson describes defy belief – who lives on a hill so steep their dog has two legs longer than the others? – while other strands of the story are uncomfortably believable.
I don’t read much magical realism because I find the blending of realities doesn’t sit well within me – I’m a black/white, all/nothing kind of girl – but I suspect fans of the genre would love this book. In contrast, I am left bemused.