Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

By Jeanette Winterson,

Book cover of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

Book description

Key Features:

Study methods
Introduction to the text
Summaries with critical notes
Themes and techniques
Textual analysis of key passages
Author biography
Historical and literary background
Modern and historical critical approaches
Glossary of literary terms

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Why read it?

6 authors picked Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This is a quirky, hilarious, autobiographical coming-of-age story about a lesbian who grows up in a repressive English Pentecostal community.

Winterson’s creation of the mother is the most unique mother I’ve ever encountered—damaged, oppressive, deeply misunderstanding of her genius daughter. I found lots of commonalities between the conflicts Jeanette had with her difficult mother and my own experience, even though we live countries apart.

Winterson’s gusto and humor are inspiring.

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a classic semi-autobiographical novel about a young lesbian growing up and discovering herself within the harsh environment of a strict Evangelical Christian community in England.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the seriousness of the events that take place, Winterson delivers her story with wit, wordplay, and dark humor that has always left me laughing out loud, even after several re-reads.

It’s a story about surviving more or less whole in a world that insists that such a feat is impossible, and it’s full of the joy such survival engenders.  

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a brilliant memoir written in novel format by Jeannette Winterson about coming of age and coming out in the second half of the twentieth century in an adopted, religious family. It’s well-written, captivating, and downright funny.

Winterson has a flair for transforming difficult childhood memories into poignant awakenings. The first thing I did after reading this book was go online and buy every other book she’d ever written, that’s how powerful it was.

From Michelle's list on young adult books for women of all ages.

A slender, lovely book about a difficult childhood, told across eight chapters that are named after books in the Bible. Winterson is always first a poet, and she brings old stories into the light in wholly new ways. A gorgeous coming-of-age story about the uphill journey to becoming oneself.

From Elisabeth's list on memoirs with myth at the heart.

I first read this brilliant coming-of-age book years ago and was unsurprised to hear it had won the Whitbread Award. Fiction, non-fiction, children’s books—Winterson is one of the cleverest, smartest, and (sometimes) funniest authors I’ve ever read. Even using her own name for the main character in Oranges, is inspired; in a recent introduction to the book she speaks of “self-invention” and using herself as a fictional character. Winterson employs fairy tale, legend, and the first eight books of the Bible to tell this story of a girl adopted by a hardline Pentecostal Christian whose aim is to prepare…

A lesbian adopted by evangelists. Enough said. This book has it all—from unique voice to inventive storytelling—and holds up today even though it was written in 1985 and takes place in the 1960s. It is a story as much about seeking to understand those who oppress as it is a story of the queer outsider searching for personal freedom in a world both hidden from her and, ultimately, not built for her. Gorgeously written, it moves me to read any prose by Winterson.

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