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  • Published: 1 October 2011
  • ISBN: 9781446402115
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 240

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?




The shocking, heart-breaking - and often very funny - true story behind Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

In 1985 Jeanette Winterson’s first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, was published. It tells the story of a young girl adopted by Pentecostal parents. The girl is supposed to grow up and be a missionary. Instead she falls in love with a woman. Disaster.

Written when Jeanette was only twenty-five, her novel went on to win the Whitbread First Novel award, become an international bestseller and inspire an award-winning BBC television adaptation.

Oranges was semi-autobiographical. Mrs Winterson, a thwarted giantess, loomed over that novel and its author’s life. When Jeanette finally left her home, at sixteen, because she could no longer remain there and survive, 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.

  • Published: 1 October 2011
  • ISBN: 9781446402115
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 240

About the author

Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette Winterson CBE was born in Manchester. Adopted by Pentecostal parents she was raised to be a missionary. This did and didn’t work out.

Discovering early the power of books she left home at 16 to live in a Mini and get on with her education. After graduating from Oxford University she worked for a while in the theatre and published her first novel at 25. Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit is based on her own upbringing but using herself as a fictional character. She scripted the novel into a BAFTA-winning BBC drama. 27 years later she re-visited that material in the bestselling memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? She has written 10 novels for adults, as well as children’s books, non-fiction and screenplays. She is Professor of New Writing at the University of Manchester. She lives in the Cotswolds in a wood and in Spitalfields, London.

She believes that art is for everyone and it is her mission to prove it.

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Praise for Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

Winterson has rarely been interested in linear narrative; she moves between different periods in the past and present within each chapter...This structure and her searing honesty are a powerful combination.

Rosemarie Milsom, Newcastle Herald

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