June 5, 2012 · 8:08 pm
‘Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit’ is Jeanette Winterson’s controversial debut novel first published in 1985. It is a semi-autobiographical novel: the main character is called Jeanette and her experiences of growing up in a Pentecostal household in Lancashire and exploring her sexuality are heavily drawn from the author’s own life. It is a coming-of-age story like no other.
Having read Winterson’s memoirs ‘Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?’ last month, ‘Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit’ seems perhaps less shocking to me than if I had read these books the other way round even though the events are virtually the same. The novel is sensitively written but I found ‘Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?’ to be the more poignant of the two books probably because the distance of time after writing ‘Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit’ made her own memoirs more personal and reflective. Continue reading →
May 9, 2012 · 8:19 pm
‘Why be happy when you could be normal?’ These are the words Jeanette Winterson’s adoptive mother said to her when she left home at the age of sixteen after falling in love with another woman. Her memoirs mostly recount her childhood growing up in working-class Accrington living with her adoptive Pentecostal parents and her later search for her birth parents. I used to think that no autobiography could be more bleak than Frank McCourt’s account of growing up in poverty in ‘Angela’s Ashes’ but Winterson’s description of her fearsome adoptive mother was particularly harrowing. To say her childhood was appalling is probably an understatement and yet she poignantly reflects on love and life without succumbing to self-indulgence. Her search for her birth mother is very moving and you will feel her frustration at the bureaucracy process coming off the page. Continue reading →
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