Book Review: Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit – Jeanette Winterson

“Innovative in style, its humour by turns punchy and tender, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit is a few days ride into the bizarre outposts of religious excess and human obsession. It’s a love story too.”

My media studies teacher lent me this book, along with a few others that you’re bound to see reviewed on here over the next few weeks, and said that I would enjoy it. She based this recommendation from my enjoying books such as The Bell Jar & One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. But, unfortunately, this book seemed to have completely passed me by.

Jeanette Winterson’s story is about growing up with god by her side, and her mother making sure that’s where he stays, chained to her. Adopted, it was believed by her mother that she was a gift from god and that she was to grow and spread the word – something to do with missionary work, or along those lines. Growing up with the fiercely religious woman made life unclear for Jeanette; school was a difficult time, she wasn’t allowed to talk to certain people and she never understood very much. I empathised for the little girl – she had a hard time. We rapidly watch Jeanette grow and see her develop as a young woman with feelings of “unnatural passions.” She was a lesbian, and for anybody who knows anything about Christianity, this was not a good thing. She’s persecuted by the church and so is her first love.

Now, that little synopsis may have been a little inaccurate as it’s such a difficult book to read. For me, nothing was developed very efficiently – the only characters that  were explored enough were Jeanette’s mother and maybe Jeanette herself. Perhaps my being post-16 has something to do with this, but I didn’t really get all of the symbolism. Winterson includes tangent storylines that sound like myths and legends which, I’m assuming are metaphorical or symbolic,  confused me to the point of boredom. I read through it all, hoping that it would pick up – it didn’t.

I may read this again when I’m a bit more older and wiser, but will be hesitant to do so. I wouldn’t say do not read this book, as you may understand it and I may just be too dumb or young (probably dumb) to realise it’s brilliance. Yet, my opinion is my opinion and I did not like it, which disappoints me. This flew straight over my head…


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