My sister gives really great book recommendations.
My sister has encouraged me to read anything by Jeanette Winterson for about three years now. I’ve mulled it over, added a few of her books to my Wishlist, and done nothing productive with my life. Until two weeks ago. I walked into the Library (my happy place), and found The Gap of Time on the new books shelf. I casually checked it out, paid the $10 in overdue fines that I had, and walked out of the library #likeaboss
Then, I didn’t pick up the book for two weeks, because that’s me I guess…
But when I did finally pick up the book again, I got sucked in quickly. It’s a retelling of The Winter’s Tale, one of Shakespeare’s later (and weirder) plays. Basically, a jealous king accuses his pregnant wife of cheating on him. He humiliates her in front of the kingdom, and she dies. The child is rescued and left on an island to be raised by commoners, forgotten. However, there’s remarkably a happy ending. Once the king repents, he’s brought to a statue of his wife. He confesses his wrong-doing, and the statue comes to life again. Fresh start, 16 years later.
The Gap of Time is a retelling, a cover. It forces us to see an old story from a new perspective. It brings into focus how heartbreaking, and real the story can be. Leontes/Leo repents, but still has to wait for the next generation to pick up the pieces.
My favorite element is the parable about the angel.
“One night he had a dream that an angel, vast and majestique, had fallen into the courtyard. Folding his wings as he fell, the angel was trapped. Feathers drifted through the windows into the dark apartments. An old woman began to stuff a pillow.
If the angel tried to escape by opening his wings, then the buildings would collapse. But if the angel didn’t open his wings he would die….
What do you do, if to be free you demolish everything around you?”
And I think that’s so very human, even though it’s a story about an angel, obviously. For a species so intent on building, we sure cause a lot of destruction. Most of the collateral seems to be other living things: rainforests, animals, other humans, usually our families. Family is tricky, and never simple.
“The missingness of the missing. We know what that feels like. Every endeavor, every kiss every stab in the heart, every letter home, every leaving, is a ransack of what’s in front of us in the service of what’s lost” (122).
I told my friends that this book knows my heart better than even I do sometimes.