“…the ready store of stories she has been given.”

John Mullan concluded his review of Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1985) in The Guardian of 20 Oct 2007:

“…The novel may be a story of self-liberation for a secular age, but it recalls a traditional sense that a person’s story is made significant by reference to the Bible. Why should any individual’s story matter, after all? Because it follows the pattern of God-given precept and God-directed narrative. All the early heroes and heroines of the English novel – Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Richardson’s Pamela and Clarissa – make sense of their peculiar lives by reference to the Bible. Jeanette learns from the Bible (via her mother) “the signs and wonders that the unbeliever might never understand”. There are other types of narrative to which the novel turns. Intermittently it flies into newly imagined fragments of fairy-tale or Arthurian myth, daydreams of knights and princesses and sorcerers. These dramatise the heroine’s desires and fears. But they are, literally, detached from the tale of her youth. The Bible is its narrative marrow. Jeanette may escape her sect, but not the ready store of stories she has been given.

· John Mullan is professor of English at University College London.”

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