We start with a story of magic intended to mirror Jeanette’s life. Winnet, the protagonist (Jeanette), is under the spell of a powerful sorcerer (her mother). Whilst travelling through the woods, Winnet comes across a powerful sorcerer who claims to know her name, which gives him power over her. However, Winnet rebels.
A river separates them and she doubts his claims to be fact, with the sorcerer eventually admitting his lack of knowledge. He invites her over to eat and Winnet makes a deal that she will eat with him and he can tell her what he wants. The sorcerer claims that he wants her to become his apprentice. The sorcerer has also tricked her by drawing a chalk circle, bounding her. She challenges him to guess her name and, by the end of the day, he does so. He now has her under his power.
Though Winnet has not lived in the castle of the sorcerer for long, she soon learns to feel that it is home. She notes that the sorcerer is fair and kind to his subjects so long as they are wholly loyal to him. One day, a stranger arrives in town and Winnet invites them to a feast.
At the end of the dining, when the sorcerer is giving out gifts, he remarks that there is trouble and, after identifying the stranger as the problem, orders he be cast out. Winnet, however, manages to free the man and asks him to go to the sorcerer and blame her for everything. He does so and the sorcerer believes him, banishing Winnet instead. She pleads to be able to stay and the sorcerer allows her to remain in the village, tending to the cows.
She then consults a wise and beloved raven who tells her to leave and be truly free, as the power she has received from her time with the sorcerer won’t disappear. She should, instead, use it in a different way. The raven gives her a brown pebble and says it is its heart and should serve as a reminder that it is always better to be free. The sorcerer, however, upon the night before her departure, sneaks in with the form of a mouse and ties an invisible thread to one of her buttons.
We are then shot back to the present day, where Jeanette has found a rather settled life working in a funeral parlour with the wreath maker she first aided in Morecambe. She also drives an ice cream truck and, when driving on the street where Elsie lives, finds a gathering around her house.
Inspecting, she discovered her mother, Mrs. White, and the pastor. They inform her that Elsie has died and the pastor yet again tries to make her confess to her sins with Melanie. He then claims that she herself told him she did not love Jeanette. Jeanette leaves.
We then return to Winnet, who has found shelter in a village surrounded by friendly folk. She cannot quite understand their language and so decides to move to a city even though the villagers say it is unwise. She does so anyway.
We return to Jeanette, who is informed that the parlour will be dealing with the body of Elsie. She spends her time taking care of her old friend and talks to her for hours. When she is done, she hears from one of the parlour owners, Joe, that she must also preside over the dinner services as the wreath maker has had an accident. Joe supports her and claims that all will be fine.
Come the dinner service, Jeanette’s mother refuses to acknowledge her and the others treat her coldly.
Jeanette then accepts a position within a mental hospital in the city, knowing that accommodation will be provided. She relates the final part of the story of Winnet and how she had to learn from a blind man the method of sailing as the city sat beyond a river.
Returning back to Jeanette’s life, we witness the passing of several years. We rejoin the narrative when someone asks her how long it has been since she has seen her mother. This question persuades her to go against her desires of not returning and she makes way back home one Christmas.
She finds her mother in her house playing an electric organ that has replaced the piano. After a brief discussion, Jeanette learns that the Society for the Lost has been dismantled after finding itself in one too many controversies.
Jeanette, the next morning, after staying in her mother’s house, is given a shopping list. She goes into town and visits Mrs. Arkwright, who is planning to move to Spain after burning her house down for insurance money.
She then reminisces about her past and worries about her desire for a complete love, fearing the same betrayal she experienced with Melanie. She spends a while pondering whether or not she wants to return to her past self.
We are again brought back to an Arthurian legend in which the knight, Sir Perceval, begins to wish that he could return to the round table and enjoy what he once had, just as Jeanette may be feeling that she wants to return.
Finally, we see that Jeanette debates how her mother still has the invisible thread around her button and that she only wishes, like with Winnet, that someone could save her and lead her the right way.
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.