We start by witnessing a recurring dream that Jeanette experiences in which she is about to be wed. The priest, as she wanders up the aisle, grows fatter, and the identity of the groom is inconsistent, ranging from a pig, her mother, and a man from the post office.
The dream seems to have been sparked from a comment Jeanette heard from one of her neighbours comparing their husband to a pig. The inclusion of a man from the post office refers to the manager who she sees there often that takes a strange interest in her.
Jeanette then thinks of marriage itself and how no one ever finds the ‘right man’. She heads to the library to investigate and comes across the fairytale to ‘The Beauty and the Beast’, in which a monster is transformed into a handsome prince after marrying a beautiful woman, something that makes Jeanette realise that such a romantic concept is mere fantasy, as no one around her appears to have experienced marriage as such.
She tries to talk to her mother about her worries but she dashes them down by saying that her life is already determined with her loyalty to the lord. She then also mentions that perfect marriages do exist like the one between St. John and Jane Eyre, but Jeanette later realises that her mother never told her the true story. Jeanette then spends her time around time, eavesdropping on other women. She hears all sorts of crass stories before she then returns to her Bible studies before vowing to, one day, marry the right person.
We are then told by Jeanette about an event which occurs more forward in the chronology: her falling in love with Melanie, a girl her age. We learn that, one day, Jeanette has a garish pink raincoat forced upon her by her mother, a piece of attire Jeanette despises, and she notices Melanie whilst out in the town. She is boning fish. She feels an immediate attraction and begins to talk to her but her mother quickly shuffles her away.
Whilst at Tricketts, a local restaurant, Jeanette is given a job by the establishment to clean dishes. Jeanette is quite pleased to be given such a position as she likes the independence and it affords her the proximity to Melanie.
It takes a while, but Jeanette manages to pluck up the courage and talk to Melanie, the two then become friends and she accepts Jeanette’s invitation to the church, even being converted straight away and asking if Jeanette can be her counsellor, which also means that the two will be together more often.
Jeanette’s mother, however, believes she is interested in a boy at church named Graham, and she goes on to lecture her about the dangers of fornication, using a story from her past to aid her preaching. She talks of Pierre, a Frenchman she had a one-night stand with in Paris before she became religious. That same night, Melanie and Jeanette experience their first sexual escape and the chapter ends with a reference to the storming of the winter palace.
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.