The Gap of Time is the first in the Hogarth Shakespeare series of books, where several authors will be writing retellings of some of Shakespeare’s plays, and reimagining them for a 21st century audience. This is a ‘cover version’, as Winterson calls it, of The Winter’s Tale.
In this contemporary version, King Leontes is now Leo, an extremely rich hedge fund manager, his wife Hermione is Mimi, a French singer, and Polixenes is Xeno, a video game designer. The video game elements allows Winterson to include some of the play’s more mystical elements, by using the virtual reality and parallel world that Xeno creates. She stays very close to the plot points of the original play, but does add some of her own ideas. For example, she makes Xeno’s sexuality ambiguous, and also makes him and Leo lovers when they were both at boarding school. This adds reasoning to Leo’s jealously over Mimi and Xeno’s relationship.
I enjoyed this novel a lot but I feel glad that I recently watched a version of The Winter’s Tale. I believe you could still enjoy the story without knowledge of the original, but you would definitely get more from reading it by having seen or read the play.