This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette…

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1985)

by Jeanette Winterson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,0381111,287 (3.76)1 / 446
  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. 01
    My Fundamentalist Education: A Memoir of a Divine Girlhood by Christine Rosen (bertilak)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

English (108)  Swedish (2)  French (1)  All languages (111)
Showing 1-5 of 108 (next | show all)
“I have a theory that every time you make an important choice, the part of you left behind continues the other life you could have had."

In this book the author tells the story of her life from the age of seven and living with her adoptive parents in northern England. Her mother is a fundamentalist Christian whilst her father is almost never present. Her mother adopted Jeanette because she wanted to acquire a child in a sexless manner and could train to be a servant to God, one day going out to do missionary work.

As she grows older, Jeanette realizes that she sometimes disagrees with the teachings of her church and begins to think about love and romance. One day she meets and befriends a girl named Melanie. Melanie joins Jeanette's church and as the two spend more time together, they begin a love affair. However, when Jeanette tells her mother about the affair both are forced to repent.

Melanie moves away but Jeanette once again becomes involved in the church taking on ever more prominent roles still believing that she is right in loving both Melanie and God. After a while Jeanette falls in love with another girl, Katy. However, when this affair is uncovered rather than repent Jeanette decides to leave the church and is forced by her mother to leave home as well. She moves away but after an unspecified time returns home one winter to see her mother. Her mother's church has been rocked with scandal and she seems to have softened in her attitude towards Jeanette's lifestyle but still listens to missionary reports on the radio with her usual fervour.

The book is written in eight sections each with a biblical title so obviously the Bible is a central element in this book but this is also a book based on contradictions. On one hand the Bible is seen as all controlling, in particular in the hands of her mother and there are plenty of sections lifted directly from it. Yet the irony of this book is that this piece of fiction is based upon it, suggesting that ALL books, where the facts can not be proven, are made up. All the book's characters follow God but it is the members of her church, like all other churches, that are the ones who decide what God believes in. Another motif of this novel is that the world is not based on a binary system. It is not all black and white, as Jeanette's mother would like to believe, but instead has numerous shades of grey as well.

I must admit that once I got into it I could not put it down. I loved the author's writing style, the light and comic touch that she employed to deal with such weighty issues. This deserves to be regarded as a modern classic and I will certainly seeeking out her other works. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Sep 6, 2018 |
I'm of an age with the author, from the north of England and have a church background so I find I can relate to Jeanette Winterson's tale of growing up in a loving home but a home informed by a passionate adherance to an extreme protestant sect (we were not that extreme but it's a familiar space). It's a tale of family love but a family that sees the world from a very different viewpoint to the "normal" world of the "unsaved". The young Jeanette struggles to make sense of the world outside the discipline of her church and home and eventually choses to leave the only world she knows and understands when she falls in love with another girl. Initially very funny (Jeanette's struggles to fit in at school are hilarious), poignant and mystical I found this well worth re-reading.
  Figgles | Aug 3, 2018 |
A fairly quick read, I managed to squeeze most of it in during quiet camp-site moments at the Benicassim festival. I made the mistake of reading the author's introduction first, & almost threw the damn thing away in disgust at how self absorbed & conceited she came across in it. Its one thing to describe a book as ground breaking & as being so unique in prose style that it changed the world...but not when your talking about your own book. Even more so when, on reading, its likely your audience may not feel the same.

I enjoyed the book a lot & thought it was a very interesting read, & I did like the fantasy sub-plot that ran alongside it (although it didn't really seem to fall into place as quickly as it could have), but the overblown introduction poisoned it. Still, I can see why its still popular after all these years, & had I not read that introduction I'd have probably really fallen for the book a lot more. Maybe I'll read it again, skipping the intro, once time has erased the bad taste the author's self importance left in my mouth. ( )
  SadieBabie | Jun 23, 2018 |
This book resonated with me; there were many echoes of my childhood, and I identified strongly with the protagonist even though I think we are quite different people. It is beautifully written with a couple of particularly strong passages that I will remember for some time: the passage about God and love that is quoted in pretty much every review on GoodReads, but also an earlier section in which Winterson ponders parallel universes:

There's a chance that I'm not here at all, that all the parts of me, running along all the choices I did and didn't make, for a moment brush against each other. That I am still an evangelist in the North, as well as the person who ran away.

I do think some of the pastiches (of high fantasy, of stories about knights, etc.) weaken the story instead of commenting effectively on it, but other than that this is a wonderful novel. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
I'm not sure what I could say about this book that hasn't already been said. This is my first reading of Winterson. It's a short book, but not a quick read. The subject matter of this loosely/semi-autobiographical novel is emotionally tough. As soon as I would begin to grow weary of Winterson's rambling style, she would interject with a portion of a fanciful anecdotal story or punch me in the gut with a powerful realization. I would describe this short debut as highly observant, sometimes funny, and always quirky. ( )
1 vote saresmoore | Mar 20, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 108 (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
Jeanette Wintersonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Alfsen, MereteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lammers, GeertjeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leigh, DennisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mattila, RaijaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
'When thick rinds are used the top must be thoroughly skimmed, or a scum will form marring the final appearance.'
The Making of Marmalade by Mrs Beeton.
'Oranges are not the only fruit.'
-- Nell Gwynn
For Gill Saunders and Fang the cat
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)
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.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

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)

» see all 4 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.76)
0.5 2
1 19
1.5 4
2 77
2.5 29
3 262
3.5 97
4 491
4.5 53
5 248

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 129,029,554 books! | Top bar: Always visible