In 1985 Jeanette Winterson’s first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, was published, become an international bestseller, went on to win the Whitbread First Novel award, and became an instant queer classic. It tells the story of a young girl adopted by Pentecostal parents, who is supposed to grow up and become a missionary, but instead she falls in love with a woman. This leads to a train of events both painful and eventually liberating. Written when Jeanette was only twenty-five, her novel was semi-autobiographical, and the real Mrs Winterson, a thwarted giantess, loomed over that novel and its author’s life. When Jeanette finally left her home, at sixteen, because she was in love with a woman, Mrs Winterson asked her: why be happy when you could be normal?
This book is the story of a life’s work to find happiness. It is a book full of stories: about a girl locked out of her home, sitting on the doorstep all night; about a tyrant in place of a mother, who has two sets of false teeth and a revolver in the duster drawer, waiting for Armageddon; about growing up in an northern industrial town now changed beyond recognition, part of a community now vanished; about the Universe as a Cosmic Dustbin. It is the story of how the painful past Jeanette Winterson thought she had written over and repainted returned to haunt her later life, and sent her on a journey into madness and out again, in search of her real mother. It is also a book about other people's stories, showing how fiction and poetry can form a string of guiding lights, a life-raft which supports us when we are sinking. Funny, acute, fierce and celebratory, this is a tough-minded search for belonging, for love, an identity, a home, and a mother. Also check out these other books by Jeanette Winterson.
Paperback, 240 Pages, Orig. Publ. 2011, This Ed. Publ. 2012