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Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  27,161 ratings  ·  1,239 reviews
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. Innovative, punchy and tender, "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit" i ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published 2001 by Vintage (first published January 1st 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

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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lori mitchell
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
...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
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
...more
Deedles
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
...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
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
...more
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
...more
Lishesque
Nov 10, 2008 Lishesque rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
...more
Jenn(ifer)
Jun 15, 2012 Jenn(ifer) rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenn(ifer) by: I have only myself to blame
Shelves: read-in-2012, own, xx, brits

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

****
mmmmm... oranges: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUym7n...

****

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
...more
Zanna
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
...more
Paul
Jul 04, 2014 Paul rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: novels
THIS IS A NUMBERS GAME

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
...more
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
...more
Ariana
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,
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 29, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
...more
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
...more
Wanda
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
...more
Anastasia
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
...more
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!
oriana
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
Cecily
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?": http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/....

There also seem to be significant autobiographical aspects to "Lighthousekeeping", as explained in my review:
...more
Jonathan
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
...more
Sundry
Middle of the night. Just finished the last book. See me in my p.j.s cruising the prime section of my bookshelves, where the novels I expect to reread reside.

I’ve read this book at least 3 times since I bought it shortly after it came out in paperback.

Jeanette, Jeanette. You are such a puzzle. Part of each of your books thrills me in that way a writer gets thrilled when she reads work she really would like to emulate. And then I find myself skimming other parts.

But I always admire your creativit
...more
Brandy
You know what? No, I'm not going to bother saying much about this. It's Jeanette Winterson. The people who like her will already want to read this; the people who don't like her won't be swayed by this fictionalized memoir (or memoir-ized fiction). It's great. That's really all you need to know.
Helena
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
...more
Persephone Abbott
The descriptions of the main character's social marginalization during her youth due of her mother's religious fanaticism are most enjoyable to read. This is because the writing succinctly expresses the dire situation with exquisite undertones. The text bites and caresses the story, a harsh enough story for the reader to want to see some glimpses of compassion from time to time. The character of Jeanette is obviously a person with above average intelligence. She tragi-comically struggles to adap ...more
Corey
Brilliant! I can't believe that I lived for 30 years before discovering this book on goodreads. I wish I had read this book as a teenager, around the time when I was seeking out all sources of information about strong women and alternative lifestyles (hence the huge Ani Difranco fetish which I haven't entirely grown out of yet). I loved the humility, humor and strength of Jeannette Winterson's voice in this book. I loved her refusal to apologize and her unfaltering acceptance of herself when no ...more
John
I loved reading this book because of the narrator's voice, an adopted girl, coming of age amid an extremely Christian community in England. By approaching this milieu through the eyes of an innocent believer, we understand the comfort and beauty of a strict faith, especially for a child. That makes the ending (SPOILER ALERT) so heartbreaking. For the narrator prefers loving those of the same sex and doesn't understand why something as pure and spirit-filled as love for another human being can be ...more
Naimisha Pasupuleti

Being a non-Christian, and from a country (India) where Christians are officially minorities, I often find the various flavours in which Christians come to be very, very confusing. What is less confusing is the zealousness of religion that envelopes a fanatic which, if displayed in any other aspect, would ensure you a recommendation to the shrink. Add another side of a person which does not conform to the generally accepted views of the environment to which one belongs, and lo, you have a powder

...more
Josie
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
...more
Agnese
Challenges children face living in a religious community.
Challenges they face outside community.
Challenges one face being "different" in the community.
Story how Jeanette grew up in a religious family and how the whole community treats her finding out she loves women which, obviously, is considered to be something demonic.
Too much religious stuff I didn't quite understand and some odd parallel stories, but it was ok and I liked it.
There was this line: "When I married, I laughed for a week, cried
...more
Sonia Gomes
“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?
Tilly
'Oranges is a threatening novel. It exposes the sanctity of family life as something of a sham; it illustrates by example that what the church calls love is actually psychosis and it dares to suggest that what makes life difficult for homosexuals is not their perversity but other people's. Worse, it does these things with such humour and lightness that those disposed not to agree find that they do.'

My reading of 'Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit' began with high expectations: expectations that Win
...more
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Guardian Newspape...: May: Oranges are Not the Only Fruit 4 18 May 12, 2014 12:08PM  
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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
More about Jeanette Winterson...
Written on the Body Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? The Passion Sexing the Cherry Lighthousekeeping

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“I seem to have run in a great circle, and met myself again on the starting line.” 500 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.” 416 likes
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