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 full character analysis)
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 full character analysis)
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 full character analysis)
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 full character analysis)
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 full character analysis)
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 full character analysis)
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 full character analysis)
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.