Set in 17th-century London, Sexing the Cherry is about the journeys taken by the boisterous Dog-Woman and her son, Jordan: journeys across seas to find bananas and pineapples; journeys through time that weave snatches of the present with tales of Charles the First and Oliver Cromwell; journeys in search of the self.
As mothers go, the Dog-Woman takes some beating. She's a giant wrapped in a skirt that could 'serve as a sail for some wartorn ship' and strong enough to fling an elephant into the air. She's hideous, too, with smallpox scars on her face where fleas live, a flat nose and black, broken teeth. To top it all, she's a 'fantasist, a liar and a murderer'.
But her son, Jordan, is proud of her - who else has a mother who can hold a dozen oranges in her mouth at once?
Like the best of Winterson's writing, such as Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit and The Passion, the audiobook is engaging, ambitious and contrary. Alongside a hearty historical realism, young girls swoon in locked towers that don't exist, islands slip sideways in time and mysterious diseases wipe out towns and cities.
Even though Sexing the Cherry is short, it is impossible to listen to it in a straight line - fairy tales and dreams run in and out of the story, and it's hard to resist chasing them.
©1989 Jeanette Winterson (P)2015 Audible, Ltd