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 for her. This involves Bible quizzes, a stint as a tambourine-playing Sally Army officer and a future as a missionary in Africa, or some other "heathen state". When Jeanette starts going to school ("The Breeding Ground") and confides in her mother about her feelings for another girl ("Unnatural Passions"), she's swept up in a feverish frenzy for her tainted soul. Confused, angry and alone, Jeanette strikes out on her own path, that involves a funeral parlour and an ice-cream van. Mixed in with the so-called reality of Jeanette's existence growing up are unconventional fairy tales that transcend the everyday world, subverting the traditional preconceptions of the damsel in distress.
In Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Winterson knits a complicated picture of teenage angst through a series of layered narratives, incorporating and subverting fairytales and myths, to present a coherent whole, within which her stories can stand independently. Imaginative and mischievous, she is a born storyteller, teasing and taunting the reader to reconsider their worldview. --Nicola Perry
"She is a master of her material, a writer in whom great talent abides" -- Muriel Spark Vanity Fair "Many consider her to be the best living writer in this language... In her hands, words are fluid, radiant, humming" Evening Standard "Even at a time when so many good and interesting novels are coming out, hers stand out as performances of real originality and extraordinary promise" John Bayley "wonderful rites-of-passage novel... where the author's blossoming Sapphic nature leads her to eschew her mothers proffered favourite" Mariella Frostrup "Still extraordinary, still brilliant" Metro