Jeanette Winterson is fast becoming my favourite author of the moment. Frankly, I thought The Passion was overrated and I couldn’t wait to be done with it, but I enjoyed Oranges are not the only Fruit immensely.
The novel focuses on a young girl, Jeanette, who is reared in an obsessively religious home until she falls foul of her family and community with her ‘sinful ways’. It’s not the first novel about religion’s intolerance of homosexuality, but it could well be the most entertaining. I grew up surrounded by religious excess – although thankfully my immediate family was and is more moderate – so I could identify with this element of the book. Winterson’s depiction of obsessive religiosity is hilarious, and while she clearly made an effort to illustrate her characters with compassion, she certainly didn’t discourage us from disliking them. Jeanette’s mother is one of the most sorry, yet vulnerable, literary characters I’ve come across in a while; I despised her for everything she stood for but I felt sorry for her because she wasn’t able to think anything for herself. The Pastors are simply genius! I’m not sure how much of ‘Oranges’ is autobiographical. I must find out.
I’m glad that I didn’t let The Passion taint my view of Winterson’s work because I would have missed out on the marvel that is Oranges, and now I can’t wait to read another from her. As with all good things, one mustn’t be spoiled, so I’ll leave it a couple of months before I read her again. Besides, I wouldn’t want to run out of her now that I’ve started to really love her. I actually started Written on the Body a few years ago but it wasn’t the right time for it because of what I was going through at the time, so I’ll go back to it next. Looking forward to it.