Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Love Is...

Have finished Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson.

A strange but very moving little novel - Winterson's first, and an exploration of her conflicted upbringing (it is so obviously a disguised autobiography).

The main character, Jeanette, is brought up in her adopted parents' (well, mother's) strict religious home in northern England. At first, Jeanette accepts her mother's strange and fanatical ways; she knows nothing else, and becomes used to the fact that others see her and her family as outsiders. She is not prepared for the backlash and moral outrage when she innocently falls in love with another girl - to Jeanette, love is love - she just happens to love a girl, not a boy.

The novel brings up questions of faith v morality, or one person's interpretation of it. Jeanette cannot reconcile in her head that one kind of love is the ONLY kind of love, according to her mother's religious beliefs. She is hurt and bewildered by her religious community's decision to portray her as an evil-spirited outcast, and resorts to creating allegorical fantasies to comfort her in her decision to leave to live her own life.

As a person who is non-religious but spiritual, I found Jeanette's conflicting feelings fascinating, and felt for her in her confusion and helplessness - and felt anger towards the people who, having preached and taught love and acceptance, cannot accept someone who is willing to give so much, just because she is "different".

I definitely want to read more of Winterson's work when I have the time.

Next up: Back to good old Mr Dickens...Martin Chuzzlewit.


  1. quite a good post, S. why was it 'obviously' an autobiography? you must know more about author than I (clueless), but was it stylistic or just your background knowledge?

  2. She is a famous lesbian author in this country, and her background is well-documented.