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Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  34,968 Ratings  ·  1,597 Reviews
Alternative cover edition of ISBN 0099935708

This is the story of Jeanette, adopted and brought up by her mother as one of God's elect. Zealous and passionate, she seems destined for life as a missionary, but then she falls for one of her converts. At sixteen, Jeanette decides to leave the church, her home and her family, for the young woman she loves. "Oranges Are Not the
Paperback, 224 pages
Published 2001 by Vintage (first published 1985)
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Pamela I too think around 15. I found this book very eye opening. When i read this book i was just coming out in the 80's. It was the rave around then. It…moreI too think around 15. I found this book very eye opening. When i read this book i was just coming out in the 80's. It was the rave around then. It was good to read then and still.(less)

Community Reviews

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lori mitchell
Aug 10, 2011 lori mitchell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: myfavorites
favorite excerpts:

"I miss God. I miss the company of someone utterly loyal. I still don't think of God as my betrayer. The servants of God, yes, but servants by their very nature betray. I miss God who was my friend. I don't even know if God exists, but I do know that if God is your emotional role model, very few human relationships will match up to it."

"As it is, I can't settle, I want someone who is fierce and will love me until death and know that love is as strong as death, and be on my sid
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Feb 22, 2014 Paquita Maria Sanchez rated it liked it
Shelves: literature
I tried to write this review eight minutes before I was supposed to go to work. I did not meet the deadline. I only mention this so I can make sure you know what quality shit you're getting when you shop here. My reviews occasionally take longer than eight minutes to compose.

Though much, much better than my miserable first experience with Winterson, I am still unsure about her after reading this, still plagued by minor annoyances. As with that other one, this book is riddled with what it seems t
Jan 15, 2013 Deedles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was a child, I had found a pair of gloves in the middle of the street in my cul-de-sac. They were black and worn with a little embroidered heart at each wrist. I slipped them on and flexed my fingers, amazed at how nicely they fit. I took them home and put them in my sock drawer, only taking them out on Thursdays for my bike ride down the street to piano lessons.

This book is exactly like those gloves. I found this book while on a field trip for pre-college English class, crammed in backwa
Richard Derus
Mar 14, 2013 Richard Derus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 5* of five

The Book Description: Jeanette, the protagonist of Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit and the author's namesake, has issues--"unnatural" ones: her adopted mam thinks she's the Chosen one from God; she's beginning to fancy girls; and an orange demon keeps popping into her psyche. Already Jeanette Winterson's semi-autobiographical first novel is not your typical coming-of-age tale.

Brought up in a working-class Pentecostal family, up North, Jeanette follows the path her Mam has set f
Petra X
Thinly-veiled memoir of the author's youth growing up with a religous nutter of a mother and a father whose character was subsumed entirely by his monster of a wife's.

I don't know why some girls become lesbians, presumably most are just made that way, but I do think some become that way through choice. In the book its almost as if there was one thing calculated to offend the mother and the entire community of zealots as a mortal sin, but not offend anyone else in the world, the only possible reb
I've heard that her more recent take on the same material Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal is even better. If that's true, I'm in for a truly superlative treat, because I loved this book to the bones. I want to read it again and again to savour its sweet delights.

Maybe Laura Doan's essay 'Sexing the Postmodern', about Winterson's work and theme development over this and two subsequent novels The Passion and Sexing the Cherry gave me a hunger to read this that made it taste so good ('hunger
This story is about a young lesbian girl, trying to navigate her way through a family, a background, and an era that refuses to recognize her, refuses to recognize her sexual identity and accept her as she is. Adopted, raised in a strict, religious household by a mother who was severe and domineering, this novel is partly autobiographical. This is a damn good book, first class story telling that you wouldn't expect to find in a first novel. Four solid stars.
Nov 10, 2008 Lishesque rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lishesque by: Carnunee
You need a lot of patience for Jeanette Winterson's weird little Beowulfesque tangents, but if you can get past that, there are little gems of brilliant clarity scattered throughout.

For me, this bit redeems all the boring parts:

"But where was God now, with heaven full of astronauts, and the Lord overthrown? I miss God. I miss the company of someone utterly loyal. I still don't think of God as my betrayer. The servants of God, yes, but servants by their very nature betray. I miss God who was my f
Jun 15, 2012 Jenn(ifer) rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenn(ifer) by: I have only myself to blame
Shelves: read-in-2012, own, brits, xx

I’ll give this book a 3 orange rating (the little mandarin ones though, not the big California navels).

mmmmm... oranges:


Oranges is a coming of age tale of a young woman in Britain raised by a Very Religious adopted mother. The chapters are aptly titled after books of the Old Testament (Genesis through Ruth). Winterson tells the story of Jeanette by juxtaposing myths and fairy tales with the life events of the protagonist. No, I’m not talking abou
Paul Bryant
Jul 04, 2014 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels

According to my Goodreads shelf, I have read 490 novels. If Joyce Carol Oates, Marcel Proust and William Gass have anything to do with it, I’ll never make 500. But I want to see that magic number 500 there! I want to be able to say “I have read 500 novels, hear me roar!” So, I’m eating up SHORT novels like a madman right now, never mind the quality, feel the pages! 300? Too long! 250? Still too long!

Oranges is short and sweet; really, short and bittersweet. It was drop dead
Dec 07, 2012 Ariana rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book completely baffling from beginning to end. I couldn't tell if it was because I wasn't raised religious, I wasn't raised in England, or because I wasn't raised by lunatics. I felt that something had been utterly lost in translation.

Sometimes I got the impression that the author had been issued a challenge to write sentences that no one in human history had ever written before. I started keeping a notebook of the strangest sentences. A few gems: "Our crocodile weaved in and out,
Joe Strong
Oranges are not the only fruit, a book ruined by its author. And well, itself. When I began reading it for the first time, I enjoyed it; Jeanette was a witty character, though a tad hard to relate to, and her life as a girl trying to break free of a small town is a story many of us can understand.
What hurt the book for me was its pretence, emphasised in Winterson’s ludicrously self gratifying introduction. It is difficult, for someone used to the more modest comments of authors such as Woolf (“I
Jun 14, 2015 El rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to El by: The F-Word
This was an interesting book to read immediately upon finishing Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape - here is another book about a different (but socially accepted) religion and the difficulties the narrator had within the confines of such.

I have not read Winterson before. I know, I know, that's crazy-talk, I call myself a feminist and I read women authors and I've never read Jeanette Winterson. Why did I think this book was about incest? This book is not abo
Mohit Parikh
Prose style: 3
Plot: 3
Depth of characters: 3
Overall sense of aesthetic: 3
Originality: 3
Entertaining: 3
Emotional Reaction: 2
Intellectual Stimulation: 1
Social Relevance: 5
Writerly Inspiration: 2
Memorable: 1

Average = 2.6/5
(the rating system is borrowed from Stephen M )

Ratings are a bit harsh, given that I read it on and off and always found difficult to connect instantly. The plethora of Bible allusions, for which the novel won many accolades, obviously weren't obvious to me, and so I think I miss
Aug 11, 2015 Alex rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"Oranges is an experimental novel," says Jeanette Winterson in her thoroughly obnoxious introduction: "its interests are anti-linear...You can read in spirals." It's nothing of the sort. It's a standard semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story, interspersed with some sort of Arthurian malarkey.

Coming out stories from the 80s and 90s aren't aging terribly well; they're too specifically grounded in that period. David Sedaris is a little wincey in hindsight, too. But this one from 1985 is fine as
Semi-autobiographical tale of adopted Jess growing up in an austere evangelical family, rebelling religiously, socially and sexually as she tries to find her way in life. Seemed quite scandalous when I first read it, but much sadder and more touching now.

For the truer, grittier, more analytical version, see "Why be happy when you can be normal?":

There also seem to be significant autobiographical aspects to "Lighthousekeeping", as explained in my review:
Kavita Ramesh
Mar 27, 2016 Kavita Ramesh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though many of the biblical references flew right over my head, I enjoyed this novel (both the times that I've read it).
Jun 16, 2016 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had no idea that this year I would read 2 lesbian books (and 4 gay ones!: “The Line of Beauty,” “The Mad Man,” On the Road,” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”). It's an obscure genre, if you ask me. “Tipping the Velvet” was disappointingly bland, although racy in parts and historically accurate, but it still felt a tad conventional. This, Winterson’s first uber-acclaimed novella, is philosophical and entertaining and funny, part autobiography and part soaring flight of fancy. It's an un ...more
I heard Janette Winterson interviewed on CBC radio last month and knew immediately that I would track down this fictionalized memoir and also her account of growing up with her ultra-religious mother, Mrs. Winterson, in her book Why be Happy When you Could be Normal?

Adopted into a nuttily religious household and finding in adolescence that she is lesbian, I had to know how she coped and how she came to a place where she could tell the interviewer that Mrs. Winterson was probably the perfect moth
Dec 04, 2012 Oriana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012
This should be bundled as a companion with Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal . In the intro to Oranges, Winterson writes, "Is this book autobiographical? No not at all and yes of course." It was really fascinating to read it right after finishing Why Be Happy and see all the autobio peeping out. The same anecdotes gussied up and polished, the same hopes carved into a different shape, the same pain painted over but still recognizable. It gives such a fuller understanding of Winterson, and of ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 29, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Parents with children having homosexual tendencies
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books and 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
This coming-of-age story about a teenage girl discovering that she is a lesbian is a literary gem worth reading. This will make the readers understand what's going on inside the mind of a teenager confused about his or her sexuality.

Just like Francoise Sagan, French, who was 17 when she wrote her first hit novel, Bonjour Tristesse, Jeanette Winterson, British, wrote this phenomenal book Oranges Are Not The Only Fruitsat a tender age of 24. The only difference is that Sagan was not able to duplic
Sep 14, 2014 Anastasia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0-2012
Parliamoci chiaro, l'edizione è veramente bella: copertina meravigliosa, come ogni Mondadori è curata, ma da un'idea completamente sbagliata al lettore di turno. Pone il focus, come si vede dalla citazione dietro la copertina, sulle relazioni omosessuali di Jeanette, quando non è affatto il punto della faccenda. Mi chiedo perché gli italiani hanno sempre problemi su questo fronte, faranno i finti tonti apposta?

La Winterson vuole focalizzarsi sul rapporto con sua madre, su una fanatica religiosa
Leanne (Booksandbabble)
May 18, 2015 Leanne (Booksandbabble) rated it it was amazing
Oranges are not the only fruit is a beautifully told story about a young girl, Jeanette, coming to terms with her sexuality in a Pentecostal community. Each chapter title is taken from the old testament, and so the story begins with Genesis. Jeanette ‘s adoption is depicted like a scene from the nativity, as her mother

'followed a star until it came to settle above an orphanage, and in that place was a crib, and in that crib was a child.'

The young Jeanette is not allowed to attend school as it i
Jun 11, 2012 Josie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've been meaning to read this book for years. The wonderful first third of the book had me completely hooked! I loved her writing style, and I found her narrator very engaging.

But, somewhere in the second third of the book, the story dropped off for me. The relationships that were supposed to be profound were lost in a writing style that felt less like quirky prose and more like the ramblings of a crazy person. New characters were introduced and never fleshed out, and old characters were so si
Jun 14, 2016 Haaike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Heel graag gelezen dit boek. Mooie zinnen, sterk verhaal, dat (gelukkig maar...) inhoudelijk mijlenver afstaat van mijn eigen leefwereld en waarden (en dan heb ik het voor alle duidelijkheid dus over het fanatiek religieuze en niet over het lesbische aspect), maar daarom niet minder pakkend is. Ik kan mij inbeelden dat de sprookjes die ze in haar verhaal verweeft niet iedereen even hard zullen aanspreken, maar zelf vond ik het meestal een mooie manier om aan te geven hoe ze over haar eigen situa ...more
Sonia Gomes
Mar 01, 2014 Sonia Gomes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“One thing I am certain of, I do not want to be betrayed, but that's quite hard to say casually, at the beginning of a relationship. It’s not a word people use very often, which confuses me, because there are different kinds of infidelity, but betrayal is betrayal wherever you find it. By betrayal, I mean promising to be on your side, and then being on somebody else’s.”

If this isn't heart breaking what is?
Claudia f. Savage
Gawd-alive, I love this woman's work. I've now read her books totally out of order, but who cares? I'm on a memoir kick at the moment. This is one of the best memoirs I've ever read, and, honey, I've read a few! So funny, it will make oatmeal shoot out of your nose. But, also, so beautiful and tender. It discusses the pain and desire of trying to belong in a completely unique way. This woman is a master!
From BBC Radio 4 - Drama:
Adapted for radio by Jeanette Winterson from her acclaimed novel.

A unique coming of age story and a darkly funny tale of religious excess and human obsession.

Mrs Winterson has grand plans for her adopted daughter. Having received Little Jeanette from the Lord she intends to give her back to the Lord - she'll be a Missionary and save the world from sin. But despite her strange and zealous upbringing Little Jeanette begins to question her future. Inspired by the legends of
Finally I've finished reading all the set literature texts for trimester one. And week one's only just finished.

This was one of the more challenging of the texts as it focused on issues I feel strongly about. However having completed this novel I can find many things of merit despite it involving a character whose world-view is contrary to my own.

This is the tale of a girl brought up in a strict religious society. Well it's not her society so much as her mother forcing her along to church and h
May 29, 2013 Helena rated it did not like it
I hated this book, but let me first tell you why it earnt that star. At the very start of this edition, the author (if i remember correctly, it could be someone else asked to comment on her work)clearly states that this book is not and was never intended to be a run-of-the-mill teenage christianity vs sexuality novel. Oh the irony! That's PRECISELY what this book is.

Utterly uninspiring, so awfully generic, plainly written...dreadful, in a word. Even the random, nonsensical snippets dotted throu
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Novelist Jeanette Winterson was born in Manchester, England in 1959. She was adopted and brought up in Accrington, Lancashire, in the north of England. Her strict Pentecostal Evangelist upbringing provides the background to her acclaimed first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, published in 1985. She graduated from St Catherine's College, Oxford, and moved to London where she worked as an assi ...more
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“I seem to have run in a great circle, and met myself again on the starting line.” 587 likes
“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.” 481 likes
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