Oranges are not the only fruit – Jeanette Winterson
You know when there are super famous books that you know you should read because reading is your thing, but you still never actually get around to it? That is an ongoing problem with me that I am hoping to tackle this year! I have already managed to knock Catch 22, another of these such books off my list and now here is another one!
This is the story of Jeanette, adopted and brought up by her mother as one of God’s elect. Zealous and passionate, she seems seems destined for life as a missionary, but then she falls for one of her converts.
At sixteen, Jeanette decides to leave the church, her home and her family, for the young woman she loves. Innovative, punchy and tender,
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a few days ride into the bizarre outposts of religious excess and human obsession.
I am always on the look out for LGBTQA+ books and yet, here is one of the most famous ones and I’ve only just read it. My bad.
When I first met my friend Sophie, we swapped a list of books that we thought the other should read and would like, this book was on the list she gave me. Fast forward a bit and Sophie uploads a video to her YouTube channel for LGBTQA+ history month talking about this book and I thought, you know what, the next opportunity I get, I am going to track this down. Lo and behold, on my next trip to the library, this was on the easy reads shelf and that my friends, is how we got here today.
So, I kinda knew, mostly because I’ve enjoyed everything else Sophie has recommended to me and because of the stella reviews on goodreads, that I would enjoy this book and I did, but I don’t think it should be something limited purely to LGBTQA+ readers, which I think is a common misconception of people who haven’t read the book. I myself had heard it was a lesbian love story and therefore, thought that was going to be the main plot line, so it was a nice surprise to have something so well rounded and inclusive of other topics and themes. Yes, Jeanette is gay and she has lovers during the book, but it is also a book about discovering yourself, not just sexually, but mentally and emotionally and discovering that your parents aren’t super human, but are just human, like you. There were many great moments where Jeanette, who has been raised in a fanatical religious household, begins to realise that who she is is very different to who her mother thinks she is and wants her to be. Thinking about it now as I type, this part of the storyline was much more interesting to me than the LGBTQA+ side.
I don’t tend to read an awful lot of books on religion, I’ve read things that have religious themes or undertones, like the Mortal Instruments for example, but I think this might be the first book I’ve ever read where characters actively go to church and actively believe in a God. I think I avoid it because I’m an atheist and many of the people I know who are religious use their faith as an excuse to be rude or mean to people and I can’t align the idea that God is all loving when his followers are not. This might be more of a problem with the people in my life rather than the religion itself. Having now read this though, I am interested in the idea of faith and beliefs and how they contribute to a story, so I’m interested to read a bit more into this subject – you peeps should hit me up if you can think of anything!
Basically, this is a rambly way of telling you that this isn’t the illicit lesbian love story I had been lead to believe it was. It is an interesting account of one girls life growing up in a deeply religious household and how that affects her and shapes her, alongside her growing up and becoming the person she was meant to be. Its charming and well written and kept me both smiling and concerned for Jeanette in equal measure. It’s also super thin, so the library was right to stick it on its easy reads shelf! I’m going to be on the look out for more Jeanette Winterson after finishing this, so if you’ve read any of her stuff and think I’d like it, send it my way!