Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1985)
I almost feel guilty for spotlighting Jeanette Winterson’s novel Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit because the author adamantly argues that she is not writing for the LGBTQ audience. The book is firstly about the growing pains of a girl living in an English Pentecostal community. Part of this maturation process happens to be queer. Winterson’s portrayal of coming into queerness explores the ambiguity of life experiences which remain undefined. The protagonist, Jeanette, doesn’t have the language to label her intense romantic relationships with other women.
In this novel, queerness and religious zealotry clash. Jeanette can only express herself in an often humorous, matter of fact way because she only has access to the devout language extolled by her over-bearing devout mother. That is not to say the book is lacking in poignancy; Jeanette’s insights are often dazzlingly clairvoyant and lyrical. The narrative is inter-weaved with fairytale vignettes, which contribute to the novel’s poetry.
The book has a great plug for reading, which I couldn’t resist sharing:
“In the library I felt better, words you could trust and look at till you understood them, they couldn’t change halfway through a sentence like people, so it was easier to spot a lie.”
Fern Burge: Queerism Blog Team