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Bitter Orange

by Claire Fuller

Crime / Mystery Thriller and Suspense

LoveReading View on Bitter Orange

An atmospheric, stormy beauty of a read which made me positively ache for the characters. As Frances lies on her deathbed she revisits the summer of 1969 when she met Cara and Peter at an abandoned country house, as the summer progresses vulnerabilities are highlighted and tragedy strikes. Claire Fuller peels open the lives of the characters with exquisite care. Feelings spin and slice across the page, freedom, isolation, menace all tumbling together in an uncertain dance. The house is a hugely important part of the tale, creating a setting that alternates between forsaken and decadent. Whenever the story left Lyntons, whether to the village beyond or the Frances of now, I felt an easing of pressure, I was able to relax muscles sitting in tense anticipation. ‘Bitter Orange’ sets a chilling yet poignant stage and allows access to the memories of the past, the emotions are touchable, the ending so perfect it hurt.

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Bitter Orange Synopsis

From the attic of a dilapidated English country house, she sees them - Cara first: dark and beautiful, clinging to a marble fountain of Cupid, and Peter, an Apollo. It is 1969 and they are spending the summer in the rooms below hers while Frances writes a report on the follies in the garden for the absent American owner. But she is distracted. Beneath a floorboard in her bathroom, she discovers a peephole which gives her access to her neighbours' private lives.

To Frances' surprise, Cara and Peter are keen to spend time with her. It is the first occasion that she has had anybody to call a friend, and before long they are spending every day together: eating lavish dinners, drinking bottle after bottle of wine, and smoking cigarettes till the ash piles up on the crumbling furniture. Frances is dazzled.

But as the hot summer rolls lazily on, it becomes clear that not everything is right between Cara and Peter. The stories that Cara tells don't quite add up - and as Frances becomes increasingly entangled in the lives of the glamorous, hedonistic couple, the boundaries between truth and lies, right and wrong, begin to blur. Amid the decadence of that summer, a small crime brings on a bigger one: a crime so terrible that it will brand all their lives forever.

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Bitter Orange Press Reviews

Rich and compelling. Fuller is an accomplished writer - Observer

Reminds me of JL Carr's A Month in the Country, Daphne Du Maurier's Jamaica Inn, and Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Incredibly atmospheric, vivid, and intriguing. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't reading a forgotten classic. - Emma Healey

A stealthy shocker about thwarted desire. A sinister, slow-burn tale that saves its most heart-wrenching revelation for last - Metro

A delicate and disturbing read, alive with love, lust, envy and guilt - S Magazine

A twisty, thorny, darkly atmospheric page turner about loneliness and belonging - Gabriel Tallent, author of My Absolute Darling

As haunting as tuberose and delicate as a scalpel - Laline Paull

Bitter Orange reads like an assured, old-school, du Maurieresque classic. It's an atmospheric page-turner that speeds us towards a bloody climax of shocks and surprises - Irish Times

Heady, claustrophobic . . . makes for perfect heatwave reading. Echoes Penelope Lively's Booker-winning Moon Tiger, Anita Brookner's Look At Me, and Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger - Independent

A rich and hypnotic read - Tatler

A sinister story that considers the terrifying lengths people will go to escape their pasts. In the vein of Shirley Jackson's bone-chilling The Haunting of Hill House, Fuller's disturbing novel will entrap readers in its twisty narrative, leaving them to reckon with what is real and what is unreal. An intoxicating, unsettling masterpiece. - Kirkus

Sinister and suspenseful, this gothic novel simmers with guilt, lust and envy - Mail on Sunday

Bewitching, otherworldly . . . full of dark foreboding. Claire Fuller is a dazzling storyteller. - Scotsman

It is rare for me to put down a novel and then immediately consider rereading it to see what cleverness I might have missed. This time, though, I am tempted. - Lucy Atkins, Sunday Times

This darkly smouldering, desperately sad, superior psychological thriller contains shades of Zoe Heller's Notes On A Scandal - Daily Mail

A compulsive page-turner. Fuller creates an atmosphere of simmering menace with all the assurance of a latter-day Daphne du Maurier - The Times

A rich, dark pressure cooker of a novel that simmers with slow heat and suppressed tension - Ruth Ware

Dark, beautifully written. It reminds me very much of Ian McEwan's Atonement, with similar slow-build tension and claustrophobic atmosphere - The Pool

An exquisite and skilfully written novel, which worms its way under your skin while Frances's loneliness seeps off every page - Red

Fuller is a master at summoning the atmosphere of a heady, hot summer that thrums with tension - Stylist

Multi-layered, lush, twisty and brilliantly clever - The Sunday Mirror

A smart creation from a skilled writer: a heady psychological novel that builds its layers carefully to allow gradual revelations and stomach-churning surprises - Financial Times

Beautiful and sinister with a gothic thriller feel - Prima

Atmospheric. Rich, clever and very readable. - Amanda Craig, Telegraph

Full of complex characters and narrative richness - The Sunday Times Culture

Loneliness, guilt and atonement are at the heart of the atmospheric Bitter Orange - Good Housekeeping

Naturally engaging and elegantly written. Fuller is an amply gifted storyteller - Spectator

With shades of Brideshead and Manderley, Claire Fuller's atmospheric third novel plays a satisfyingly unpredictable game with reader expectations. Prepare to be meticulously unsettled and horribly enthralled - Country Life

Full of dark foreboding. Claire Fuller is a dazzling storyteller - Belfast Telegraph

Cannily releasing clues on the way to an explosive finale . . . The lush setting and remarkable characters make for an immersive mystery - Publishers Weekly

Elegant, atmospheric, vivid - The Big Issue

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780241983461
Publication date: 02/05/2019
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780241341827
Publication date: 02/08/2018
Publisher: Fig Tree an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780241341827
Publication date: 2nd August 2018
Author: Claire Fuller
Publisher: Fig Tree an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd
Format: Hardback
Genres: Crime / Mystery, Thriller / Suspense,
Categories:

About Claire Fuller

Claire Fuller lives in Winchester. She is a director of a marketing agency specializing in marketing communications. She is also an artist and sculptor and has had several short stories published. Our Endless Numbered Days is her first novel.   Author photo © Adrian Harvey

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