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Adam Mars-Jones writes:
For so polarised a temperament it’s the milder emotions that are likely to embody therapeutic breakthroughs. ‘Living with life is very hard. Mostly we do our best to stifle life – to be tame or to be wanton. To be tranquillised or raging. Extremes have the same effect; they insulate us from the intensity of life.’ That’s the way forward, in theory: to engage with the true intensity of experience without resorting to melodrama. From this point of view, the most admirable passage in the book describes Winterson’s reaction to meeting her birth mother at last: ‘I have read a lot of overwhelmingly emotional accounts of reunion. None of that is my experience. All I can say is that I am pleased – that is the right word – that my mother is safe.’ ‘Pleased’ has a promisingly tentative and provisional feel.