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Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (Bloomsbury…
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Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (Bloomsbury Classics) (original 1985; edition 1991)

by Jeanette Winterson

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4,624961,030 (3.76)1 / 393
Member:gcoupe
Title:Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (Bloomsbury Classics)
Authors:Jeanette Winterson
Info:Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (1991), Hardcover
Collections:Your library
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Tags:gay fiction

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Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson (1985)

Recently added bykirjoi, KellenMalek, lacenaire, bumblebeth, amamesc, private library, kristi_test_05
  1. 70
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English (94)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  All languages (96)
Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
this is the 4th time i've read this, i think, and for whatever reason it just didn't resonate with me very much this time around. i like that i can see her style emerging here, but it still needs polish in this, her first, book. it felt more choppy than i like, more loose ends left untied and even untethered. parts were excellent and show her potential, but i just don't think that overall it's all that well done or all that finished. (perhaps that's why she went on to write why be happy when you could be normal.) for me, at least reading it this time around, what was missing was more present for me than what was there.

still, there are some lines that i liked (and a few that i notice each time i read it) and some passages that are good, if not great:

"In the library I felt better, words you could trust and look at till you understood them, they couldn't change half way through a sentence like people, so it was easier to spot a lie."

"She stroked my head for a long time, and then we hugged and it felt like drowning."

pretty much the whole 3 pages of the chapter she titles "Deuteronomy" but in particular: "And when I look at a history book and think of the imaginative effort it has taken to squeeze this oozing world between two boards and typeset, I am astonished. Perhaps the event has an unassailable truth. God saw it. God knows. But I am not God. And so when someone tells what they heard or saw, I believe them, and I believe their friend who also saw, but not in the same way, and I can put these accounts together and I will not have a seamless wonder but a sandwich laced with mustard of my own."

"There are different sorts of treachery, but betrayal is betrayal wherever you find it. She burnt a lot more than the letters that night in the backyard. I don't think she knew. In her head she was still queen, but not my queen any more, not the White Queen any more. Walls protect and walls limit. It is in the nature of walls that they should fall. That walls should fall is the consequence of blowing your own trumpet."

"There's no choice that doesn't mean a loss."

(2 stars)

from dec 2009: maybe i went into this book last time with high expectations, and this time with low expectations; i found that i actually enjoyed reading it this time around. i found it funny and quirky and really revealing. the passages that last time felt out of place and unnecessary to the story, this time i felt gave extra insight and tied everything together well. goes to show how much of a book is about the reader and their mindset. this one didn't get a fair shake on my last review.

a quote i liked last time but didn't note and that struck me again this time around:

'In the library I felt better, words you could trust and look at till you understood them, they couldn't change half way through a sentence like people, so it was easier to spot a lie.'

from march 9, 2009:

i remember liking this more the first time i read it, but still found it relatively entertaining. i'm not into her writing style anymore, though.

however: "'There's this world,' she banged the wall graphically, 'and there's this world,' she thumped her chest. 'If you want to make sense of either, you have to take notice of both.'"

"There's no choice that doesn't mean a loss." ( )
  elisa.saphier | Apr 28, 2016 |
An eccentric series of surprisingly humorous anecdotes on growing up in an overtly religious household and community, Oranges reads like the inspiration for Clara and Hortense in Zadie Smith's White Teeth. The characters verge on being caricatures, which, while not relatable, is understandable. I especially liked the protagonist and her headstrong individualism, especially her school craft projects whose unappreciated amazing elaborate set-ups made me indignant on her behalf. The prose is original and low-key, the subtext dense but light, melancholy and witty, easily quotable, my favourite being Uncertainty to me was like an aardvark to other people. A curious thing I had no notion of, but recognised through secondhand illustrations. An unconventional novella which explores the idea that of creations living beyond its creator's intentions.

Aside: my edition came with a foreword from the author which strongly impressed me with her strong convictions. She recounts the circumstances in which she wrote Oranges and what Oranges is, essentially her views about the book, the story, the physical book in bookstores, the adaptation, her publishing house and her idiosyncrasies. All books should come with a foreword where the author expounds their principles. Below is an excerpt.

"I wrote Oranges on a £25 office Goliath with an industrial quantity of Tipex. Then, as now, I used recycled paper... If I were a publisher, I should insist that all manuscripts came on recycled paper. Why should nature pay for art?

"Oranges marked the beginning of my experiment with style, structure and language, and I made a direct promise that if it proved beyond me to go on doing something different, then I would stop. It is the duty of every generation of writers and artists to find fresh ways of expressing the habitual circumstances of the human condition. To serve up the lukewarm remains of yesterday's dinner is easy, profitable, popular, (for a while). It is also wrong." Jeanette Winterson, London 1991. ( )
  kitzyl | Mar 27, 2016 |
FOUR I-might-not-be-intellectual-enough-to really-get-it-but-I-think-I-liked-it-anyway STARS ( )
  SadieSForsythe | Feb 24, 2016 |
Oranges are not the only fruit by Jeanette Winterson - Excellent

I vaguely remember watching some of the TV adaptation years ago, so knew a little of the story, but loved this - read it in two sittings!

Semi-autobiographical, it is the story of a young girl adopted by a fanatically religious mother growing up in a Lancashire town and discovering her sexuality. I was warned about the style of writing, but I didn't find it an issue myself - in fact I found it eminently readable. Some of the 'Lancashire-isms' made me smile too - being a similar age and growing up in a similar town, I could easily picture some of that life.


Listed in the 1001 books you must read before you die http://www.listology.com/list/1001-books-you-must-read-you-die

Listed in The Guardian's 1000 best novels http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/jan/23/bestbooks-fiction

Listed in the 102 Greatest Books by Women:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/ariannarebolini/how-many-of-the-greatest-books-by-women-...
( )
  Cassandra2020 | Jan 24, 2016 |
What a refreshingly odd book about a young girl growing up in an evangelical household in England and awakening to the fact that she is a lesbian...and there are lots of interesting sidebars and fables and colorful characters and every so often you run across something like this:

It is not possible to control the outside of yourself until you have mastered your breathing space. It is not possible to change anything until you understand the substance of that you wish to change. Of course people mutilate and modify, but these are fallen powers, and to change something that you do not understand is the true nature of evil.

It's quirky, but recommended. ( )
  bibleblaster | Jan 23, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 94 (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 (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jeanette Wintersonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lammers, GeertjeTranslatorsecondary 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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802135161, Paperback)

Winner of the Whitbread Prize for best first fiction, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a coming-out novel from Winterson, the acclaimed author of The Passion and Sexing the Cherry. The narrator, Jeanette, cuts her teeth on the knowledge that she is one of God’s elect, but as this budding evangelical comes of age, and comes to terms with her preference for her own sex, the peculiar balance of her God-fearing household crumbles.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:50 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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