Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

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Knopf Canada, Oct 25, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 256 pages
51 Reviews
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Heartbreaking and funny: the true story behind Jeanette's bestselling and most beloved novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.

In 1985, at twenty-five, Jeanette published Oranges, the story of a girl adopted by Pentecostal parents, supposed to grow up to be a missionary. Instead, she falls in love with a woman. Disaster.

Oranges became an international bestseller, inspired an award-winning BBC adaptation, and was semi-autobiographical. Mrs. Winterson, a thwarted giantess, loomed over the novel and the author's life: when Jeanette left home at sixteen because she was in love with a woman, Mrs. Winterson asked her: Why be happy when you could be normal? This is Jeanette's story--acute, fierce, celebratory--of a life's work to find happiness: a search for belonging, love, identity, a home.

About a young girl locked out of her home, sitting on the doorstep all night, and a mother waiting for Armageddon with two sets of false teeth and a revolver in the duster drawer; about growing up in a northern industrial town; about the Universe as a Cosmic Dustbin. She thought she had written over the painful past until it returned to haunt her and sent her on a journey into madness and out again, in search of her biological mother. It is also about other people's stories, showing how fiction and poetry can form a string of guiding lights, a life raft that supports us when we are sinking.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jennybeast - LibraryThing

How can a memoir be so intensely heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time? And also poignantly funny and full of extraordinary language? Too much in this book resonates with me – I could read it ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Fliss88 - LibraryThing

Some people have such a miserable childhood and still manage to survive with a sense of humour. The title of the book is revealed about midway. I enjoy this book and yet it wasn't a happy book. It ... Read full review


1The Wrong Crib
Get Born
3In The Beginning Was The Word
4The Trouble With A Book 
5At Home
8The Apocalypse
10This Is The Road
11Art and Lies
12The Night Sea Voyage
13This Appointment Takes Place In The Past
14Strange Meeting
15The Wound

9English Literature AZ

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About the author (2011)

JEANETTE WINTERSON, OBE, is the author of ten novels, including The Passion, Sexing the Cherry and Written on the Body, a book of short stories, The World and Other Places, a collection of essays, Art Objects, as well as many other works, including children's books, screenplays and journalism. She has won the Whitbread Award for Best First Novel, the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize, the E. M. Forster Award and the Prix d'argent at Cannes Film Festival.

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