Janet Barron

Pineapple of Politeness?

Sexing the Cherry

By Jeanette Winterson

Bloomsbury 166pp £12.95 order from our bookshop

Eating a hundred golden pippins in a single afternoon was the act of self-indulgence and dubious taste to which Jonathan Swift attributed the madness of his latest years. Sexing the Cherry is ripe with Swiftian tropes, from the Brobdingnagian heroine who makes men seem like Lilliputians, to the setting of the tale-within-a-tale on a flying island lightly adapted from the Laputa of Gulliver’s Travels. Fishiness, rather than juicy fruit, is Jeanette Winterson’s theme. In her first novel, The Passion, a lesbian had webbed feet: here, the malaise has spread inexorably upwards and a lover has turned into a mermaid.

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