By Zoe Turner
Not long ago, I came across an article informing me that just two forests remain completely intact on the entire planet. I didn’t open this article simply because I didn’t want to read any more; the prospect of any further deterioration is terrifying, and we’d much rather bury such issues in a deeper cavern of our minds, right?
This novel is the tool that spades inwards, forcing such matters to consciousness, yet in the most romantic of manners. The author structures a parallel world simply by enhancing existing aspects of our own, so that this black mirror seems disturbingly possible. Billie’s earth has merely declined faster than ours, handing us a theoretical preview of the future. The narrative pivots on a popular human fear and thus a popular theme in art; our species’ final desperate attempts to conserve a home that we ourselves have destroyed with hate and greed.
Winterson links this environmental decline with our social depravity. One example is the ‘genetic fixing’ procedure that this world encourages, ensuring that every woman stays young and stereo-typically beautiful. Here, Winterson cunningly exaggerates our current issues with sexism and beauty pressures. Uncoincidentally, she portrays such issues to be in their prime as the end of the world approaches.
The writer perfects the relationship between form and language, separating her novel into four sections, future end, past end, rebirth and another end. Intertextuality assists Winterson in achieving her genius cyclical narrative, as she plants each section as a text in another. This technique merges the sections, making them impossible to separate from each other, which is exactly the point…
Winterson’s story is one that offers us an idea to make our palms sweat; the concept of our own recurrence, the theory that we’re always going to make the same mistakes because we think it’ll be different next time, every time. The author imagines that our brains can’t decipher between the past and the future because it’s never any different, it’s all just what is not happening now; “It’s as though we’re doomed to repetition”, and it’s this that she conveys through her conglomerated style, conjuring up a potent sense of doom.
You may now be anticipating a novel which entirely represents the futility of our lives, but what lies continuously at the heart of this tale, is Love, as our last and strongest source of hope. It’s denoted in a variety of forms; human and robot, man and man, and mother and child, emphasising its universal significance, the one thing we all have in common. Winterson poses her ultimate question through Billie: “Love is an intervention. Why do we not choose it?”
We have so much power to intervene, and so much love to intervene with. Will it ever be enough to truly begin again? It’s as though there’s been a Billie in my head saying ‘surely we can do better’ ever since I left her at the gate.
Zoe Turner is a second year student at MMU aspiring to write outside of her English studies. She is 19 years old and was born and raised in Staffordshire. Her areas of interest are predominantly music, literature, film and art.