Noah ​is a relatively ordinary man. He’s a hard worker (he owns the thriving little pleasure boat company, Boating for Beginners), is slightly overweight and has a heart condition. In fact, apart from a bizarre antipathy towards frozen food, particularly Black Forest Gateau, he is Mr. Bog Standard. That doesn’t stop him from recognising a good thing when he sees it though. So when he accidentally creates God “out of a piece of gateau and a giant electric toaster”, he realises he’s onto a winner. Within weeks, he’s a cult figure, writes extravagant bestsellers-“Genesis”, or How I did It and “Exodus” or Your Way Lies There—and has outlawed refrigerators and Black Forest Gateau. When Noah starts to turn his bestseller into a film, God feels left out and decides to liquidate the world. Noah has less than a week to fill his stage set (the ark) with animals and prepare for a flood. There are three women who find out what he’s up to—Desi, Noah’s daughter-in-law; Marlene, a transsexual potter, and Gloria, the thoughtful yet slightly unbalanced girl in charge of rounding up the animals. Gloria is the heroine of Boating for Beginners and it is her story that drives the rather fragmented narrative of this surreal satire. Bursting with ideas, Boating for Beginners rewrites religion and philosophy, while taking a pop at romantic fiction. It is perhaps Jeanette Winterson’s most overlooked work and although not her best—turn to Oranges are Not the Only Fruit or Sexing the Cherry for that—Boating for Beginners is witty, playful and imaginative.

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