Publisher's Summary

Shortlisted for: UK Author of the year – Specsavers National Book Awards 2012
When Jeanette Winterson, author of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, left home at 16 because she was in love with a woman, Mrs. Winterson asked her: "Why be happy when you could be normal?" This book is the story of a life's work to find happiness. It is the story of how the painful past returned to haunt Jeanette's later life, and send her on a journey into madness and out again, in search of her real mother. It is also a book about other people's stories, showing how fiction and poetry can form a string of guiding lights, a life raft which supports us when we are sinking.
©2011 Jeannette Winterson (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Linda Marea on 20-08-2018

My first Winterson book

Everyone raves about JW. And I now know why. Such brutal delicate heart aching honesty. Such delicious humour. Such a gift to read.
I felt so uncomfortable sharing in the intimacy of her story yet so privileged.
And her reading of her own work winds the volume up on all of the emotional responses to her experiences.
Often you can feel an ending loom in books. A natural conclusion or completion. The book ends and you move on feeling satisfied (or maybe not) with how the story has been wrapped up. But this is one of the few books where I was not ready for any ending. I wanted this to go on. Like a friendship. I loved her and her stories. And I want more.

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5 out of 5 stars
By Bernadette on 08-01-2018

tip top

absolutely brilliant. Maybe the best book I have ever encountered. had me in tears more than once.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By cath on 02-07-2012

Sharing her story

Would you consider the audio edition of Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? to be better than the print version?

the audio version is better for me as I am dyslexic and having an audio version brings books to me I would otherwise find difficult to read

What did you like best about this story?

that she was sharing her story

Have you listened to any of Jeanette Winterson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

no - I would love to hear oranges but you do not have it available

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

laugh and cry - made me appreaciate my family

Any additional comments?

would love to listen to the book she refered to Oranges are not the only fruit

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 04-02-2018


It was really heart-touching. I enjoyed it very much. Winterson seems to write from the experience. Not only from her life, but from the many books she has read during her life.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Blake's Tyger on 23-12-2012

Oranges Is Not The Only Book

Like many people my age (about the same age as Jeanette Winterson), I read 'Oranges' when it was first published all those years ago, and loved it. But somehow read no more of Ms Winterson's output until I picked up "Why Be Happy" after seeing the TV programme with Alan Yentob, the other week.

I was not disappointed. Loved it, in fact. Better still, reading it has made me want to go out and read Ms Winterson's other books. She paints a complex picture of the redoubtable Mrs W, highlighting the fact she may not have even had the writing career she went on to have without Mrs W's monstrous creation - of herself. And ultimately, there is a touching, strange loyalty to Mrs W. This book has maturity and complexity, and tries to blur the line between fiction and autobiography - something touching about the fact the writer wants to do that, too.

I normally stick to meaty slabs of books on Audible that give value for money, so it says something for the power of the writer and writing here, that I spent my money on something slighter (I mean physically not a mighty tome, as opposed to slight in content, as it is not at all sketchy).

Great book; an insight into what makes a writer, and how we construct our identities. This is that rare thing; a book that stays with you, always.

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15 of 16 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Mark H on 11-12-2012

The biography of a talented outsider

This was a moving account of an indomitable and spirited individual, whose childhood shaped her for both better and for worse. I have never been drawn to the author's fiction, but this biography is worth reading for several reasons. Firstly, it is well written and well read, by the author. Secondly, it gives poignant insights into a particular northern lifestyle of the fifties and sixties, one where the values and norms of the day seem like a distant history lesson. And, thirdly, it is entertaining. I found the non-linear style different to most autobiographies, but it worked quite well and covered up for omissions of quite large periods of Janette's life. It was a little as if she was pulling jigsaw pieces out of a bag and showing you them. Some pieces of the picture joined up, some bits came together at different times. And in some places there were holes that were never filled in. She has kept some pieces of the jigsaw in the bag, perhaps she will reveal them later.

If you like reading biographies, then you are likely to like this one.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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