When Jeanette Winterson, author of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, left home at 16 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 the story of how the painful past returned to haunt Jeanette's later life, and send 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.
©2011 Jeannette Winterson (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
the audio version is better for me as I am dyslexic and having an audio version brings books to me I would otherwise find difficult to read
that she was sharing her story
no - I would love to hear oranges but you do not have it available
laugh and cry - made me appreaciate my family
would love to listen to the book she refered to Oranges are not the only fruit
I actually listened to this twice and read the book in paperback. Enormous Jeanette Winterson fan and to have her reading it was just the most wonderful treat.
It was short enough I knocked it over in a couple of sittings.
Tell us about yourself! I am a French woman and live in Paris. I love to read - I read almost EVERYTHING! I like also to speak English
I was really excited when WBHWYCBN was selected for the Book Club because I truly loved the title. They say you do judge a book by its cover so me I was onto the book before even started it. The book title really resonates with me. The while reading I find out how hard it was, how complex it was!
To pin down what this book was even exactly about is difficult in itself. So it’s a book about Jeanette Winterson’s adopted mother, and then her eventual search to find her biological one. Sure. But it’s also about a million other things. I was even unable to ask basics questions about : Which themes struck me the most? Mrs. Winterson and her exorcism and book burning? English Literature A-Z and the power it gave Jeanette? The “lost loss” of adoption? Or the countless meditations on love, love, love — giving it, receiving it, deserving it?
Then I decided to relax and take this story as her journey to understanding herself, where she came from, with Mrs. Winterson as the main antagonist. To me, the most hopeful thing about the book is how with time Jeanette came to understand Mrs. Winterson (and her father), and, by extension, herself.
Jeanette Winterson's style threw me a couple of times. This book is written in a style I don't particularly like. Sometimes I liked but then the next page could just throw me again. I do understand the complicated mess that is the relationship with Mrs. Winterson.
All that I remember about this book is that messy relationship and self-discovery. Jeanette’s style made it hard for me to remember the story; I was lost most of the time. The book didn't hook me, it took me nearly 2 weeks to finish it and normally, when I like a book it takes about 2 days for I finish it.... It all comes down to style, this is a style I don't like and can't describe whatsoever, but I'm sure there are plenty of people who like this.
did not like the reader ... it was hard to focus and folow
"Oranges Is Not The Only Book"
Like many people my age (about the same age as Jeanette Winterson), I read 'Oranges' when it was first published all those years ago, and loved it. But somehow read no more of Ms Winterson's output until I picked up "Why Be Happy" after seeing the TV programme with Alan Yentob, the other week.
I was not disappointed. Loved it, in fact. Better still, reading it has made me want to go out and read Ms Winterson's other books. She paints a complex picture of the redoubtable Mrs W, highlighting the fact she may not have even had the writing career she went on to have without Mrs W's monstrous creation - of herself. And ultimately, there is a touching, strange loyalty to Mrs W. This book has maturity and complexity, and tries to blur the line between fiction and autobiography - something touching about the fact the writer wants to do that, too.
I normally stick to meaty slabs of books on Audible that give value for money, so it says something for the power of the writer and writing here, that I spent my money on something slighter (I mean physically not a mighty tome, as opposed to slight in content, as it is not at all sketchy).
Great book; an insight into what makes a writer, and how we construct our identities. This is that rare thing; a book that stays with you, always.
"The biography of a talented outsider"
This was a moving account of an indomitable and spirited individual, whose childhood shaped her for both better and for worse. I have never been drawn to the author's fiction, but this biography is worth reading for several reasons. Firstly, it is well written and well read, by the author. Secondly, it gives poignant insights into a particular northern lifestyle of the fifties and sixties, one where the values and norms of the day seem like a distant history lesson. And, thirdly, it is entertaining. I found the non-linear style different to most autobiographies, but it worked quite well and covered up for omissions of quite large periods of Janette's life. It was a little as if she was pulling jigsaw pieces out of a bag and showing you them. Some pieces of the picture joined up, some bits came together at different times. And in some places there were holes that were never filled in. She has kept some pieces of the jigsaw in the bag, perhaps she will reveal them later.
If you like reading biographies, then you are likely to like this one.
I loved listening to Jeanette telling her own story. She has a really interesting regional accent mixed with a more southern clipped vowels. I would say that there was a heavier emphasis on philosophy and a lot more musing - if you're expecting a 'what happened next' you will be disappointed.
"Brilliant! Poignant and real"
So rare to read something that feels like the truth and doesn't avoid the pain of complexity and the parts of life that are incomprehensible and the reality that life also consists of absences that also define us! Inspiring to read if you need an impetus to survive any difficult situation! Or ever feelyou failed somehow to be normal
"Gut wrenching honesty"
It's revealing, frank and emotionally demanding at times. But ultimately a tale of hope and achievement.
Ms Winterson is a singular author with a sharp and distinct intellect and narrative style. Her autobiography is a stand alone .
I'm a little older than Ms Winterson. I had an ordinary upbringing but had no idea that the social deprivation recounted was common in parts of 1970s Britain. She adds human warmth to a life which was, at best, difficult and makes little of her hardships.
No. Parts are emotionally demanding. I listened to it over three evenings and that gave me time to absorb and reflect.
There were times during this account when I had to do a reality check and remember that the story was taking place in the mid 1970s north west of England, not Late Victorian times. The social and emotional deprivation beggars belief. But that makes the account all the more heart warming. Despite every adversity, emotional, physical and mental abuse, Ms Winterson stood by the truth and values she knew were right for her.
At times, it's difficult to listen to. Ms Winterson is frank about the hardships she suffered. But it's a balanced view, interspersed with humour and positive experience. Her achievements as an individual and as an author of international renown show that it's possible to overcome all adversity if you dig your heels in hard enough. I have the greatest respect for anyone who can recount a tale of brutality, hardship and loss and leave the reader feeling positive. The background has whetted my appetite for a couple of her books which I haven't yet read and will put them into context. As an autobiography, this rates as one of my all time best.There were times during this account when I had to do a reality check and remember that the story was taking place in the mid 1970s north west of England, not Late Victorian times. The social and emotional deprivation beggars belief. But that makes the account all the more heart warming. Despite every adversity, emotional, physical and mental abuse, Ms Winterson stood by the truth and values she knew were right for her.
At times, it's difficult to listen to. Ms Winterson is frank about the hardships she suffered. But it's a balanced view, interspersed with humour and positive experience. Her achievements as an individual and as an author of international renown show that it's possible to overcome all adversity if you dig your heels in hard enough. I have the greatest respect for anyone who can recount a tale of brutality, hardship and loss and leave the reader feeling positive. The background has whetted my appetite for a couple of her books which I haven't yet read and will put them into context. As an autobiography, this rates as one of my all time best.
"Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?"
This is an interesting sequel to "Oranges are not the only fruit" and at times is equally hilarious. The author has the capacity to portray a quite appalling childhood and sequaelae without self pity, and in such a way that you begin to understand the troubled personalities of her adoptive parents. It is a book about what shaped today's society, and a stark reminder that "normal" can be barking mad. Well worth a read, and quite inspirational, whatever you gender, sexual preferences or state of sanity!
I struggled with 'Oranges' and had heard of some of JW other works and always intended to return to it/them. I decided to give this a listen and I am so glad I did, she's has had an interesting life and has a fantastic and honest view of life which was refreshing and gave me cause to reflect on my own ways of thinking - something I like to come out of reading a book but is a rare thing. It also peaked my interest in her other books and in a way eased me into her writing style as well as making me more willing to work with it now I have an understanding of it.
This is an honest and forthright account of Jeanette's life, her childhood and her eventual search for her birth mother. Some of the incidents, such as being put out on the doorstep were not unusual when I was growing up, so I related to the matter of fact way she related these childhood experiences. I tend to listen to books while in my car, this one, I listened to at every opportunity. I'd not seen or read 'Oranges', although I had heard of it. It's now on my list of things to read/watch at the next opportunity. Jeanette is a brave woman who has done much to promote the emancipation of women, and this book illustrates the pathway that led her there.
"Whats wrong with Being Happy ? !!"
I dont know what attracted me to buying this book !!, I'd never even heard of Jeanette befor. However, what a BRILLIANT, BRILLIANT read. This is a very, different read which flows from an extreemly difficult childhood biography into a search for her birth parents. I really must find some more of Jeanette's stuff, especially 'Oranges'.
I struggled around chapters 3 and 4 when it was "literaraturely" deep but glad I saw it through to the end.
I found the struggle with her adoption interesting and her confidence in her own ability, inspite of her adopted mother's behaviour, inspiring.
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