A celebration of love in all its frailty, confusion and excess. Set on board the QE2, and in New York and Liverpool, Gut Symmetries explores parallel lives, loves and universes.
Physics seems to have become the new language of love in the 1990s, and Jeanette Winterson is not the first writer to make a major character a physicist. Jonathan Lethem mined similar territory earlier this year in his delightful book, As She Climbed Across the Table,
and now Winterson enters the lists with not one, but two physicists populating the pages of her equally wonderful book, Gut Symmetries
. If you think about it, physics does
make a good metaphor for love, encompassing as it does the principles of attraction, the exchange of energy, and unification. At the center of this meditation on "the intelligence of the universe" and "the stupidity of humankind" are Jove, a married physicist; Alice, a single physicist who becomes his mistress; and Stella, Jove's wife and later, Alice's lover. They meet on the QE2
and from there the three participants in the story take turns telling their versions of it.
Gut Symmetries is a collage of memories, snippets of scientific theory, meditations on abstract concepts like truth, and the events surrounding Jove, Alice, and Stella's affair. This is a book that demands your attention, jumping as it does from one seemingly tangential topic to another; but whereas physics still seeks a grand unification theory (GUT) to explain how everything in the universe fits together, Winterson actually finds one of her own in this satisfyingly complete fictional world.
"Brilliant ... [ Gut Symmetries] scintillates with a language live enough to carry a wild musing on the largest issues of our existence." — The Globe and Mail
"Beyond comparison.... Few writers can contend with Jeanette Winterson.... She writes like a demon drunk with love, and if there's a sentence in Gut Symmetries that doesn't startle readers with its bravery and wit, then they're not reading hard enough." — The Chronicle-Journal
"Fascinating, provocative.... Jeanette Winterson proves she is as literarily nimble as she is intellectually stimulating." — The Montreal Gazette
"Riveting ... [Winterson] expresses the range of the human soul with startling ingenuity." — The Vancouver Sun