Can life unhappen?
"The past in The Winter's Tale is not history; it's tragedy. And tragedy cannot happen without consciousness. It's the scale of the loss, the sense of it and it's senselessness, that makes jealousy and violence in the first act so painful."
How can you live if you don't forgive?
One decision, based on jealously alters the course of many lives. Jeanette Winterson's The Gap Of Time mirrors Shakespeare original play. Leo and Xeno are friends, in the same way that Leontes and Polixenes are in The Winter's Tale. An unexplained rage and suspicion by Leo that his wife is having an affair with his best friend, launches into a lifetime of heartache and misunderstanding. A little baby, Perdita, is the innocent bystander in this, who's life takes a tangent from the course originally intended for her.
But, what would life have been like for Perdita had she stayed with her parents? Would that even have been an option? Unarguably, the divorce and heartbreak that followed would have been devastating for the little girl. Would she have been able to take the misery of living with Leo half the time and with MiMi the other half?
Perhaps she was better with Shep, the father would found her. Leo didn't think she was his child, and wanted to send her way to Xeno. Shep knew she wasn't his, yet he still loved her with all his heart. One may argue she had a better childhood because of the whirlwind of events instigated by her real father Leo. Conversely, now may surmise if blood is indeed thicker than water or if it has no consequence when the love is unquestioned without strings attached?
The Gap Of Time is the first of Publisher Hogarth's ambitious stories of Shakespeare's tales retold by contemporary novelists. Among the authors that are taking on this challenge, are Margaret Atwood, who tackles The Tempest, and Gillian Flynn (of Gone Girl) who has an interesting challenge on her hands with Hamlet.
The Gap Of Time illustrates that it takes so little time to change a lifetime. Then, it can take one lifetime to understand the change. We are all connected, not only in the present, but across temporal boundaries.
"Sometimes it doesn't matter that there was any time before this time. Sometimes it doesn't matter that it's night or day or now or then. Sometimes where you are is enough. It's not that time stops or that it hasn't started. This is time. You are here. This caught moment opening into a lifetime."