A short summary of Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges are Not the Only Fruit. This free synopsis covers all the crucial plot points of Oranges are Not the Only Fruit. This is the story of Jeanette, adopted and brought up by her mother as one of God’s elect. Zealous and . Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson. Guardian book club: Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit uses the Bible as a source of both structure and meaning, says John.

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Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

TV adapters worry more than novelists about whether their fictions might seem true, and in the BBC dramatisation of Jeanette Winterson’s novel its young protagonist was named “Jess”. That is to say, the character was renamed “Jess”.

In Winterson’s book, though her surname is never used, she shares a Christian name for once, this culture-specific phrase is appropriate with the author. We hear it for the first time on the lips of Miss Jewsbury “Don’t be orange Jeanette”a fellow member of her Christian sect.

We might recall the familiarity when, a few years and chapters later, Miss Jewsbury seduces the sinful Jeanette. The author’s name is otherwise used by teachers “Jeanette, we think you may be having problems at school” or elders of her church, though not by her own mother.

We are licensed to identify author and protagonist – yet this is a novel. An autobiography must explain; a novel can make a narrative out of gaps.


In a novel, the fact that the protagonist’s father never quite enters a room, and certainly never speaks, seems designed and appropriate. In life, we presume, the author’s father did occasionally utter some words, and communicated enough to earn what, in the fictionalised version, is his daughter’s rueful affection.

In a memoir, we would surely feel dissatisfied by the lack of attention given to the narrator’s discovery that her extraordinary mother, dominant in the novel as in her life, was not her biological mother.

Bible story

In the fourth chapter, “Numbers”, she mentions “the day I discovered my adoption papers while searching for a pack of playing cards”. It is not really narrated, just said in passing.

It is the reason why “I have never since played cards”: Later on in this chapter she is 14 years old, but we cannot know if this is the age at which she discovered she was adopted. Some indeterminate time afterwards, in an episode that occupies only a page and a half, her birth mother turns up at the house and the narrator listens through the wall with a wine glass to the angry conversation between her and her fhe mother.

The novel imitates this silence. Though the novel does tell us of its protagonist’s most private life, it is the opposite of confessional.

It declines the memoirist’s confidence that the past can be “revealed”. With its short sentences and stripped-down vocabulary, it noy refuses to be eloquent after the event.

Yet this story of restriction is humorous because it is told by an escapee.


Think of the allusions to Dante Gabriel Rossetti or Shakespeare or Keats that illuminate an imaginative life beyond what her mother prescribed. The Germans have a word for this kind of narrative: German and French have many more names than English for the different types of novel.

In none of these fduit the author’s identification with the protagonist announced, yet in all three it is implied. Through fiction all seem to reveal the most visceral experiences of aree author’s youth. This is surely what Winterson’s novel was designed to be: The flashes of fairytale and newly minted legend interleaved in Jeanette’s story are the signs of her hungry imagination.

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit – Wikipedia

It is an utterly peculiar narrative, yet an example of a well-established genre. Like all such stories, it concludes with all the world before it. Lawrence’s Paul Morel walks quickly towards the town; Joyce’s Stephen Dedalus leaves for inspiring exile. At the end of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Jeanette returns to visit her mother, but is now liberated to be an amused spectator of her eccentric religious devotion.

She has other places to go. The story gets its voltage from what will happen beyond its ending. Doors open at 6.

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