The protagonist of the novel, Jeanette is a fictionalized version of the writer Jeanette Winterson. Headstrong, self-sufficient, devoted to God, and a natural story-teller, Jeanette grows from a young girl to a young woman over… read analysis of Jeanette
Jeanette’s mother (unnamed in the book) is an intimidating, God-fearing woman whose domineering attitude, stringent adherence to evangelism, and desire for control eventually ruin her relationship with her adopted daughter, Jeanette. Despite the fact… read analysis of Mother
A local girl whom Jeanette finds attractive, and soon recruits to join her church. Melanie and Jeanette study the Bible together several times a week, and soon find themselves tumbling into a sexual relationship. Jeanette… read analysis of Melanie
An elderly member of Jeanette’s church and Jeanette’s first—and only—childhood friend. It is Elsie who visits Jeanette in the hospital most frequently when Jeanette is recovering from surgery on her adenoids, and Elsie who… read analysis of Elsie Norris
A girl from church with whom Jeanette has a love affair one year after her relationship with Melanie ends. Katy and Jeanette have a sexual relationship for several years before they are found out, at… read analysis of Katy
A woman who, with her lesbian partner, runs the town paper shop. She and her partner are kind to Jeanette, and offer her sweets, but when Jeanette tells her mother that the women have… read analysis of Ida
The head of Jeanette’s school. Together with Mrs. Virtue, she corners Jeanette and demands that Jeanette explain why she is terrorizing her classmates with her morbid religious sayings and bizarre understanding of the… read analysis of Mrs. Vole
A woman who runs a pest control shop in Factory Bottom, an impoverished neighborhood in Jeanette’s hometown. At the end of the novel, unable to revive her floundering business, Mrs. Arkwright tells Jeanette of… read analysis of Mrs. Arkwright
One of the pastors at Jeanette’s church.
A traveling pastor who frequently preaches at Jeanette’s church.
A friend of Jeanette’s mother.
One of Jeanette’s mother’s closest friends.
A neighborhood woman who fears that her daughter is having an inappropriate relationship with a female friend.
A teacher of Jeanette’s school who repeatedly criticizes her creative work in class, which is often of a “disturbing” religious bent.
A pious woman from Jeanette and her mother’s church.