I first heard about "Oranges are Not the Only Fruit" as being a coming-of-age novel, then I read more about Jeanette Winterson and decided that I want to read a lot of her books. This was the first and won't be my last. Maybe I had too much high hopes, but what I found was not quite what I was expecting. It was not disappointing at all, it was just different.
I loved the writing and the fantastical stories mingling in the narrative, that were allegories of Jeanette's trials and wonders in real life. I read that, when Winterson was a child, the only book in the house (apart from the religious-themed ones) was "Morte d'Arthur", so it makes sense why Lancelot is present in her fantasies.
My only complaint is that there were a lot of minor characters and I kept loosing track of them, because Winterson hasn't really portrayed them properly. Yet, this issue concerning names seems to be an important theme for the writer. The name of a fantastical character, Winnet Stonejar, is an anagram of Jeanette Winterson. And not everybody got a name in the novel: a character was simply called "woman", although she appeared several times.
I thought the novel was kind of autobiographic, but reading more about it I found out it's only partly based on Winterson's life. And also that it's not quite a coming-of-age novel, but a Künstlerroman
. Anyway, some elements do match, so only the writer and those close to her know to which extent the novel is true.