Jeanette Winterson is one of my favorite contemporary writers, so when I saw that she was writing a “cover” version of Shakespeare’s Winter’s Tale, I dropped everything to get my hands on a copy. Gap of Time is Winterson’s reimagining of Shakespeare’s play. Gap of Time is named after the ending stanza of The Winter’s Tale:
Lead us from hence, where we may leisurely
Each one demand an answer to his part
Perform’d in this wide gap of time since first
We were dissever’d: hastily lead away.
Although I’ve never read the play, this book stands on its own. It’s a book about jealousy, madness, and repentance. Winterson cheekily sets this book in the future; it’s a post-financial-crisis world, where New York is a place called New Bohemia. Leo’s wife Mimi is pregnant, and Leo becomes obsessed with the idea that Mimi is cheating on him with his best friend, Xeno. In true Shakespearean style, chaos ensues. And in true Wintersonian style, there’s a mix of prose, dialogue, and something like poetry. She throws in quotes from Shakespeare and even inserts herself into the book (briefly, in passing.) Although it took me a few chapters to get oriented, once I did, it was such a lyrical and emotional read. I found myself underlining, highlighting, and rereading every page.
Winterson has rewritten so many stories, and this one is just as wonderful as the others. If you’ve never read anything by Jeanette before, here’s a sample of her writing style:
So many stories of lost and found.
As though the whole of history is a vast Lost-Property Department.
Perhaps it began when the moon splintered off from the earth, pale, lonely, watchful, present, unsocial, inspired. Earth’s autistic twin.
And all the stories of twins begin. Paris who can’t be separated but can’t be together. Of shut-outs and lock-outs, and feuds and broken hearts and lovers who think they are immortal until one of them dies.
I would recommend this book to fans of adaptations, people who enjoy a British sense of humor, and enjoy lyrical prose (I recognize that Jeanette may not be everyone’s cup of tea!)