Joe Strong's Reviews > Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
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Dec 21, 2010

it was ok
Read in January, 2010

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 have my hopes for this book” – Mrs Dalloway), to understand how someone could be so arrogant and self indulged with themselves, especially after their apparently tragic childhood. This, unfortunately, began to rear its ugly head in the novel, as well.
Jeanette the character is absurd – she lives in the perpetual hypocrisy that no one understands her, yet she refuses to understand the plights of others, for example, Melanie. This simply was not countered, or indeed, addressed as a character flaw. Instead it was held as a beacon. That annoyed me.
However, the novel itself did present an interesting read in many respects. The magic realism used was something I had not come across in my reading, and at first I was impressed at the way it was used to subtly parallel Jeanette’s life. Then it began to play a larger role, and the more I saw of it, the more I disliked its use. I suppose it was ‘the fashion at the time’ the book was written. Now it is less apparent in novels, though can still be used to great avail.
For me a novel that attacks the establishment of the church is always welcome. And one that attacks the prejudice that we still see against homosexuals is something I feel ought to be praised. Unfortunately, so did Winterson.
Three words: hit and miss.
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03/16 marked as: read

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