Oranges are not the only fruit – review

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.

11 responses to “Oranges are not the only fruit – review

  1. i’m pretty sure i was going to read this at some point

    have you read ‘this book will save your life’? the one with the donuts on the front?

    i’m hooked. but it’s also making me feel a bit odd – wondered if you had read and what you thought….

  2. well, firstly, it’s brilliant. I think so anyway. I read 3/4 of it in a day and got colmpletely lost in it on the train.

    but it’s made me think. I feel alot how the man in it feels…and he’s mental. So i’m mental too.

    Also, it’s a lot about being happy with what you have achieved and striving for more than just money in the bank. And it’s made me feel uneasy about my life, and if i’m getting the most out of it. Which i guess is a good thing for a book to do, but not so great for me!

  3. I’m in total agreement about Winterson – some stuff is a bit esoteric and I too thought The Passion didn’t really justify its hype but I suppose, like most work of hers, it’s one you really have to get. You’re almost required to understand the religious aspect of Oranges as well as the “alternative sexuality” I think, but when you can relate to the story she’s the most vividly emotive writer imaginable. It’s easy to get lost though – I must have read over each page of the passion at least twice because I kept losing track.

    I thought Oranges was fairly autobiographical, sure I saw her talking about it on tv not so long ago…

  4. YATW, it can indeed be very esoteric, and while that often seems a little pretentious, Winterson seems to get a way with it. Perhaps I just didn’t get The Passion, but I didn’t like it at all. Karl, on the other hand, thinks it’s fantastic. But we all know never to listen to him!

    I dare say Oranges was fairly autobiographical – I would be surprised if it wasn’t, shall we say.

  5. This post of yours inspired me to get a copy of Oranges. I can’t remember when i first read it -yonks ago- and i’m looking forward to the revisit. 🙂

  6. Pingback: READ/SLEEP [DELETE AS APPROPRIATE] « JadedLotus·

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