BBC Radio 4

Society & Culture

Led by James Naughtie, a group of readers talk to acclaimed authors about their best-known novels


Jeanette Winterson

April 4th, 2010

Episode 288 of 428 episodes

James Naughtie and readers talk to Jeanette Winterson about her breakthrough first novel Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, about a girl growing up in an Evangelical Christian group. This Spring Jeanette is celebrating twenty five years since the book was first published - the question the book has always raised is how much of it is autobiographical? Because there are distinct parallels, the main character is called Jeanette, she lives in the same kind of Northern mill town and had a similar story. Jeanette Winterson will be talking to James Naughtie and readers about how fact meets fiction, and how she looks at this book as a kind of cover story of her own life. Adopted into a Pentecostal family, the fictional Jeanette is brought up to be a missionary and encouraged to preach from an early age; but when she falls in love with another girl, she decides to leave her beloved community and her home. Jeanette explains how this event is not the point of the story, but pivotal to it. Now on the curriculum for English at AS Level, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a warm and - perhaps surprisingly - very funny study of a girl setting out on her path in life. Producer : Dymphna Flynn.

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