Thursday, August 29, 2013

Book 98: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

Though a fiction novel, it feels very biographical, and the narrator's name is even the same as the authors.  The novel tells the story of the narrator's childhood and her developing sexuality.  Raised in a very strict Christian church, some of her stories about grade school are incredibly amusing because she continuously misses the mark when trying to understand the students and the teacher.  She may make the most intricate and carefully designed projects but teachers really don't quite know how to react to embroidered sayings along the lines of "repent" or some of the other darker themes that the narrator explores as a result of her upbringing.
Once the narrator reaches her teens, she begins to develop feelings for other women, and though at first this is ignored, she soon finds herself in conflict with her church.  Despite her devotion to her religion, she also cannot see how her actions are in conflict with her church, leading to some tough lessons for her.
While I thought the novel was well-written, and also enjoyed that Winterson approached the narrative with a certain amount of humor, I can't say I was always that moved by the story,  Overall, I liked it and thought some of the relationships were very well-written.  I would have loved to learn more about some of the older women in the church who have learned to balance their beliefs and their sexuality, since a few of them suggest that they know what Jeannette is going through.  This novel was published in the mid '80s, so I'm sure part of the issue is that while the novel was groundbreaking at its time, at this point the story it tells is rather familiar.  I can certainly understand why it is an important novel, and as I said I mostly enjoyed it, though it didn't leave a huge impression on me.

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