Title: The Gap of Time (A Cover Version of William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale)
Author: Jeanette Winterson
Publisher: Hogarth (A Crown Publishing Group division)
# Pages: 273
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Why I Chose It:
I have a trepidous relationship with Shakespeare’s works: I either love or hate them. There is no in between for me. This book is a retelling of The Winter’s Tale, one of Shakespeare’s later works that I have not read. Some of his later works have become some of my favorites, including The Tempest. I hoped this updated tale would bring fresh life to Shakespeare in a time when a lot of books have become watered down mush. Plus, the cover design on the paperback version is pretty intriguing!
The Winter’s Tale is one of Shakespeare’s “late plays.” It tells the story of a king whose jealousy results in the banishment of his baby daughter and the death of his beautiful wife. His daughter is found and brought up by a shepherd on the Bohemian coast, but through a series of extraordinary events, father and daughter, and eventually mother too, are reunited.
In The Gap of Time, Jeanette Winterson’s cover version of The Winter’s Tale, we move from London, a city reeling after the 2008 financial crisis, to a storm-ravaged American city called New Bohemia. Her story is one of childhood friendship, money, status, technology and the elliptical nature of time. Written with energy and wit, this is a story of the consuming power of jealousy on the one hand, and redemption and the enduring love of a lost child on the other.
I wish I had read the original version first. While there is a synopsis provided at the beginning, I couldn’t wrap my mind around enough of the complexities to truly keep track of who the new characters were supposed to be and what their role would have been in the original.
I gave this book 2 out of 5 stars. I’m not sure how much of this is due to my difficulty getting a feel for the story and how much of it is due to my dislike of the writing style, which felt very abrupt. Many of the sentences were either short, simple sentences, or long sentences that ran on, and on, and on. I expected Shakespeare’s melodical writing, bouncing and flowing smoothly like a linguistic river. Even his biting insults feel like music to my ears. The flow of this rewrite just felt a little off to me.
Then there were the characters and the language they used. Even with the knowledge that this story is based off of jealousy, murder, and rage, the word choices were too brash for my liking. I don’t need derogatory insults and curse words constantly screamed out to understand that a character is a douchebag. It was overkill, causing me to cringe every time Leo spoke (or rather, screamed out in CAPS!)
While I wasn’t overly impressed with this, some hardcore fans of Shakespeare (or even Jeanette Winterson) might love it. One breath of fresh air was the knowledge that this was only the first retelling of many from various well-known authors. Personally, I am waiting for future installments in the Hogarth Shakespeare retelling series–such as Gillian Flynn’s cover of Hamlet.