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Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
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Liz M | 194 comments “Everyone who tells a story tells it differently, just to remind us that everybody sees it differently. Some people say there are true things to be found, some people say all kinds of things can be proved. I don't believe them. The only thing for certain is how complicated it all is, like string full of knots. It's all there but hard to find the beginning and impossible to fathom the end. The best you can do is admire the cat's cradle, and maybe knot it up a bit more.”

This first novel is Winterson's first attempt to tell her story, perhaps to see her life differently. In telling this story, she uses the language and structure she knows so well -- the Bible. Having been raised in a Pentecostal sect, assuming her life would be one of a missionary, Winterson's world was created and filtered through Biblical stories. So the chapters of her novel are titled after the first 8 books of the bible and the incidents related, roughly chronologically, are loosely similar in theme. If her story was told with less lyricism and more linearly, I suspect it would be harrowing (I have not yet read Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, the actual autobiography that parallels this novel).

The writing is at times melodious and portentous and lends itself to breath-taking quotes. It gives a sense of there being many layers, allusions, and allegories that I do not understand. I can see why many people have found the work distant, unemotional -- here, in this novel, everything reflection is fragmented, and I am not sure if I am seeing the facets of a brilliant diamond or a shattered mirror.

Kristel (kristelh) | 4248 comments Mod
Read 2016
Semi-autobiographical story of Jeanette Winterson's life with her pentacostal adoptive parents and Jeanette's coming of age and discovery of her self as lesbian. The story of oranges are not the only fruit has some very interesting devices. The oranges being the only fruit symbolizing heterosexuality among other things. The chapters of the early childhood in the names of books from the Bible. The use of myth, Perceval and Winnet added to the picture of Jeanette's life as she was disconnected from others, wandering, trying to find a place in the world.

Diane Zwang | 1313 comments Mod
5 stars for me. Read in 2016

“Since I was born I had assumed that the world ran on very simple lines, like a larger version of our church. Now I was finding that even the church was sometimes confused. This was a problem. But not one I chose to deal with for many years more.”

A coming-of-age story of Jeanette Winterson who is adopted and growing up in a evangelical community in England. There wasn't anything I didn't love about this story, I especially liked the focus of the many women of the community. This was a raw, open and honest look at one girl's journey into adulthood with all the struggles that go with it including being different. It is amazing what the author achieved in a mere 176 pages.

“I knew I couldn't cope, so I didn't try. I would let the feeling out later, when it was safe. For now, I had to be hard and white. In the frosty days, in the winter, the ground is white, then the sun rises, and the frosts melt...”

Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments 3 stars

Jeanette Winterson does something quite wonderful in her books, bringing into her art the stories of lesbian women. Some of the books are madcap romps that took place in bawdy theater halls more than 100 years ago, and others occur in more recent times in the home of a religious fanatic. No matter the setting or the story she gives us unique, vivid characters who happen to be gay. It is wonderful to read the representation.

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a coming of age tale about a young woman raised by a fanatical mother, silently coming to terms with her sexuality. The mother believes that homosexuality is a sin and tries everything she can to dispossess her daughter of that sin. This is an odd, quirky book. The author has threaded several fairy tales through the story. They seem to be figments from the imagination of our protagonist. Little wishful characters showing her that life can be what she wishes. I found them confusing and unnecessary. Is the book novel or memoir? For that you need to read the book.

Also, although the novel is often termed a "lesbian novel" Winterson has objected to the label. She says: "I've never understood why straight fiction is supposed to be for everyone, but anything with a gay character or that includes gay experience is only for queers." I could not agree more.

MaryAnn (EmilyD1037) | 2 comments I gave this book 3*

I found something about her work compelling. I read it
in one day and had a hard time putting it down. It is
not something I would usually read so I was surprised.

I agree with Kelly about the take offs being confusing
and unnecessary.

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 481 comments I thought Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit was excellent, and was completely blown away that this is a debut novel. I was also amazed to find that level of religious mania in the UK. I suppose I rather think of it as an American thing. I now really want to read Jeanette Winterson's memoirs, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

I enjoyed the fairy tale interludes. They seemed very much linked to what was happening in the main character's life: The search/demand for perfection, the way a parental figure or the church can reel you back in when you try to escape. They were not fantasies or wishful thinking, but rather a way of tackling difficult concepts and developments through allegories.

Gail (gailifer) | 1533 comments The first novel in which the author Jeanette Winterson builds from her own life experiences and upbringing, introduces us to a narrating storyteller whose major influence is the pentecostal church, the bible and an overbearing mother. She tells her story in such a way that we see that things are not black and white but blurred, where one can be both completely sure of oneself and vulnerable.
The main character is delightfully witty and serious in both her beliefs and her passions while characterizing much of her personal interactions in lovely heartfelt ways. I liked her a great deal.
I also thought that the use of the biblical chapter structure, the Arthurian tales and the fairy tales about princes and wizard and little girls, that are woven into the mix really worked. The humor keeps what is at times a true tragedy from become a boggy mess.
Overall I was very impressed.

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