Sunday, November 27, 2011

Oranges are not the only fruit

In November The Age newspaper reviewed a memoir, Why be happy when you could be normal?  by Jeanette Winterson where she describes her life living with her adopted family. It was not a conventional upbringing as her mother's life revolved around the activities of a zealous church and its missions and abhorrence of all that is not holy. Jeanette is also actively involved in the church until she leaves home at  sixteen. Many years later she became a successful author writing, among other novels, Oranges are not the only fruit.

In the introduction to the book she writes, "Is Oranges an autobiographical novel? Not at all and yes of course." There are definitely parallels between the Jeanette in the novel and experiences of the author. Jeanette in the novel has always been different and has difficulty fitting in at school largely due to her religious environment as she actively participates in the church services and other activities, including preaching, and is destined to be a missionary. However at sixteen she is forced to leave home after forming a relationship with another woman, definitely an unholy practice in the eyes of the congregation and particularly her mother. Jeanette's story is interwoven with other parables of people who are different being forced to leave home yet still having a thread leading them back.

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