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Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1985)

by Jeanette Winterson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,3821231,350 (3.77)1 / 486
The coming-of-age story of Jess, the adopted daughter of a deeply religious woman, who grows up isolated and insulated in the north of England in the 1960's. Jess meets Melanie, and the two teenagers fall in love, greatly upsetting Jess's mother and her congregation.
  1. 70
    Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson (Anonymous user, Tinker_Books)
    Tinker_Books: Independent twin Novel to Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson.
  2. 20
    A Clergyman's Daughter by George Orwell (Whig)
    Whig: For similar treatment of lost faith by a young girl.
  3. 10
    Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell (bertilak)
  4. 00
    The End of Eddy by Édouard Louis (librorumamans)
    librorumamans: Also autobiographical fiction about growing up gay in a hostile, lower-class environment.
  5. 00
    The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall (Cecrow)
  6. 01
    My Fundamentalist Education: A Memoir of a Divine Girlhood by Christine Rosen (bertilak)
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English (119)  Swedish (2)  French (1)  All languages (122)
Showing 1-5 of 119 (next | show all)
I've been meaning to read some Winterson for quite some time, and finally got around to ordering one in at the local library. I found her style both clever AND interesting, two things that often seem to be mutually exclusive, although I found myself skimming the various fantasy asides by the last third of the book. Despite this, I enjoyed it a lot. ( )
  Tara_Calaby | Jun 22, 2020 |
Read. ( )
  sasameyuki | May 14, 2020 |
This is a coming of age novel about a girl whose adoptive mother is a member of a charismatic Christian church. Throughout her childhood, she is an enthusiastic member of the church, preaching and evangelizing. However, as a teenager she realizes she is lesbian, and she sees no conflict between her religion and her sexuality, but not surprisingly her mother and her church reject her.

This is a tough read for a lot of reasons. The book is short, but there's a lot packed into it, and as much as Winterson's writing is compulsively bingeable, the book does benefit from taking some time to think about it, especially to think about how the various fairy tale interludes relate to the main story. It's also tough reading about how cruel the narrator's mother is, even though the narrator doesn't always see it herself. It's also hard to get into the head of an Evangelical Christian, and the narrator's blind acceptance of religion, even when it does not accept her, is difficult.

However, Winterson tempers all of these difficulties with her clever and witty writing. This book is nowhere near as virtuoso as her later works, but she is already a master writer here in her first book. ( )
1 vote Gwendydd | Apr 22, 2020 |
This book was on my list for ages. What an odd and surprising story, partly because it is so ordinary in many ways. The author's gift of recognizing the absurd and even comical in awful situations is astonishing. A great read. ( )
  rosiezbanks | Apr 4, 2020 |
Moving alongside Jeanette, the narrator of Oranges, was a pleasure and delight. She's a girl, who grows into a woman, and doesn't abandon her understanding of love nor does she compromise what this means and feels to her even in the face of terrible resistance. It's a powerful, quirky, and moving queer coming of age story set in a fevrent Christian church that stigmatizes queer folk and exiles Jeanette who does not return the same hatred in kind.
  b.masonjudy | Apr 3, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 119 (next | show all)
Narratively, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is built on a particular irony - a contradiction in which it takes some sly delight....The novel may be a story of self-liberation for a secular age, but it recalls a traditional sense that a person's story is made significant by reference to the Bible. Why should any individual's story matter, after all? Because it follows the pattern of God-given precept and God-directed narrative. All the early heroes and heroines of the English novel - Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Richardson's Pamela and Clarissa - make sense of their peculiar lives by reference to the Bible
 

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Winterson, Jeanetteprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lammers, GeertjeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leigh, DennisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mattila, RaijaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
'When thick rinds are used the top must be thoroughly skimmed, or a scum will form marring the final appearance.'
From
The Making of Marmalade by Mrs Beeton.
'Oranges are not the only fruit.'
-- Nell Gwynn
Dedication
For Gill Saunders and Fang the cat
TO PHILLIPPA BREWSTER WHO WAS THE BEGINNING
First words
Like most people I lived for a long time with my mother and father. My father liked to watch the wrestling, my mother liked to wrestle; it didn't matter what. She was in the white corner and that was that.
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit was written during the winter of 1983 and the spring of 1984. (Introduction)
Quotations
Everyone thinks their own situation most tragic. I am no exception.
Going back after a long time will make you mad, because the people you left behind do not like to think of you changed, will treat you as they always did, accuse you of being indifferent, when you are only different.
Of course that is not the whole story, but that is the way with stories; we make them what we will. It's a way of explaining the universe while leaving the universe unexplained, it's a way of keeping it all alive, not boxing it into time. Everyone who tells a story tells it differently, just to remind us that everybody sees it differently.
She was Old Testament through and through. Not for her the meek and paschal Lamb, she was out there, up front with the prophets, and much given to sulking under trees when the appropriate destruction didn't materialise. Quite often it did, her will or the Lord's I can't say.
I didn't know quite what fornicating was, but I had read about it in Deuteronomy, and I knew it was a sin. But why was it so noisy? Most sins you did quietly so as not to get caught.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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