- Publication Date: October 6, 2015
- Shakespeare retelling, fiction, contemporary
- Warning: Swearing and violence, lots of switching of perspectives, and probably not for people who dislike modern retellings.
“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.”
The Gap of Time is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare Project, a literary project where bestselling novelists retell Shakespeare’s works for a “new generation”. The Gap of Time is based off of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale.
Now, I like Shakespeare and have read and seen several of his plays. However, I have never read or seen The Winter’s Tale so I can’t compare it to the original. What I did appreciate is that before reading the actual story, there’s a summary of the original Shakespeare play at the beginning. For those of you who hate spoilers, you could obviously skip over that part but for those like me who like to compare retellings to their original source materials, I found that a great way to directly connect the original with the new.
Jeanette Winterson’s The Gap of Time has a very flowing and sometimes fanciful method of storytelling. Sometimes it reads like a regular novel and sometimes it reads more like a stage play. Sometimes it starts from one character’s perspective and then seamlessly melts into another’s perspective. This, like Shakespeare’s writing style, takes a bit to get used to once you do it has its charm.
I really enjoyed the modern details to the story like addition of the video game. For me, I thought the game and the story that inspired its creation very poetic. There were other elements of the story, however that sometimes felt forced which I’m not sure if that was caused because of trying to stick close to the original Shakespeare material or, because after a certain point the plot seemed to suddenly speed up in the last two parts before coming to an abrupt end (though The Winter’s Tale supposedly did the same with an ending left open for interpretation).
Overall, The Gap of Time was an interesting introduction to one of Shakespeare’s later plays, The Winter’s Tale. I’m still not sure if this would be a good book to get people who are not already interested in Shakespeare into the famous bard’s works. However, if you do like modern retellings of old classics, this may be the book for you!
I received a copy of this book from the Blogging for Books and the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
What do you all think? Have you read The Gap of Time already? Have any other book suggestions that I should add to my Saturday/Weekend Reading List? Leave your thoughts behind in the comments. Just be respectful please.