Jeanette Winterson’s latest novel, The Stone Gods, is a science-fiction novel-within-a-novel adventure and might come as a pleasant surprise to the fans who have seen her through the days of feast then famine.
The relationship between Peter and his parents is given more space, but this could also have been examined more closely. Picoult appears to hold back from following up on the intriguing world she creates. Relating the role of parents in raising a child who ends up being a murderer is welcome, particularly when we are told Peter’s father lectures on the economics of happiness. Irony is heaped on irony with the descriptions of Peter’s mother, Lacy, as she is a midwife (and deemed knowledgeable on parenting) and is also seen to be as kind as she is inept in her understanding of her son.
Repression, fear and even loathing run through her mind as she braces herself for what is to come after their meal. We are told in the first sentence that they are ‘young, educated and both virgins’ and she is unwilling to alter this state. Her only knowledge of sex is derived from a manual and she has convinced herself that she is without desire.
This is a broad ranging work as it manages to be poetic whilst drawing on current events in the news, such as the war in Iraq, teenage delinquency and paedophilia in the Catholic Church.
Sarah Waters’ fourth novel, The Night Watch, is set in 1940s London, during and after the Second World War, and is an innovative departure from her previous three lesbian Victorian historical fictions.