We begin by being thrust into the relationship between Jeanette and her adoptive mother. Her mother is portrayed to be highly and almost oppressively religious, seeming to adopt Jeanette in order to mold her into a perfect religious individual.
Jeanette’s life is dominated by the Bible and her mother expects her to be knowledgeable on every facet of religion. Her mother also makes attempts to alienate Jeanette from many townsfolk, non-believers especially, deeming them to be ‘evil’.
We are then told of the great conversion her mother experienced years ago when she wandered into Pastor Spratt’s Glory Crusade and was persuaded to ‘see the light’ by Spratt, who had a background in advertising.
Our narrative is then interrupted when Jeanette begins to talk of a fairytale wherein there is a princess, so tuned in to the woes of the world that the smallest of things child upset her for days. A hunchback manages to squash her invasive sensitivity by making her take up duties. He gives her the responsibility of a town, dies, and then the princess is left to toil, realising that her overly emotional nature subsides.
We then move on to a memory of Jeanette’s from when she was seven years old. During a preaching session conducted by pastor Finch, he decides to home in on Jeanette and use her age to demonstrate how quickly innocence can be rattled and taken over, turned to the darker side of sin.
Jeanette picks up on the strangeness of his focus and goes to the Sunday school room to build miniature biblical scenes but Finch follows her, inducing her to return to her mother, whereafter they leave the church.
Jeanette then ponders her predicament. Her mother does not allow her to go to school, instead educating her solely on religion. Her father goes to work at five in the morning but her mother goes to sleep at four. Peculiarities aside, a letter arrives informing Jeanette’s mother that her daughter must be sent to school.
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
This is the story of Jeanette, adopted and brought up by her mother as one of God’s elect. Zealous and passionate, she seems destined for life as a missionary, but then she falls for one of her converts.
At sixteen, Jeanette decides to leave the church, her home and her family, for the young woman she loves. Innovative, punchy and tender, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a few days ride into the bizarre outposts of religious excess and human obsession.