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Old 20th Aug 2004, 19:12   #9
Mike
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Join Date: 18 Aug 2004
Location: Walsall
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I read and reviewed "Oranges are not the only fruit " a month or so ago. I was impressed more with its description of religious fundamentalism than the lesbianism concentrated on in the TV drama.

Oranges are not the only fruit by Jeanette Winterson
I was delighted with this short, very funny but very thought provoking novel - Whitbread Winner 1985. Dealing with religious fundamentalism the subject matter would be hard to see as funny but Winterson treats the reader to her character also called Jeanette, gives her an semi autobiographical voice and manages to make her funny, thoughtful and provoking all at the same time. Dealing with lesbianism and revivalist religion the author uses allegorical fairy tale style stories interspersed with the narrative to tell the story of Jeannette as she matures both in her sexuality and her religious beliefs.

Brought to a wider audience by the BBC Drama of the same name starring the late Charlotte Coleman it is usually remembered for its portrayal of lesbianism yet it is so much more than that - a young girl tries to come to terms with her own religious beliefs in spite of the almost fanatical beliefs of those around her. The sometimes-hilarious yet poignant happenings at her school and at home come together beautifully and still manage to convey the difficulties with fundamentalist religion and the modern world. She never actually loses her belief - it is her church led by her fanatical mother that throws her out upon finding out of her relationship with another girl in the church.

Confused but full of hope she embarks on a journey of discovery involving working in a funeral parlour and driving an ice cream van with hilarious results. A short book - mine had an introduction by the author - (I don't know if they all have it ) but it doesn't seem a short story , I would have liked more detail in places , more of Jeanette in the city etc . But this aside it was entertaining and a frank appraisal of working class 50's/60's Christian extremism. I would recommend readers try to forget the film Drama and read the book afresh - it is a superb read.
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