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Bitter Orange

by Claire Fuller

Modern and Contemporary Fiction Relationship Stories

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.

Featured in Episode 5 of the LoveReading Podcast

Liz Robinson

Bitter Orange Synopsis

Frances Jellico is dying. A man who calls himself the vicar visits, hoping to extract a deathbed confession. He wants to know what really happened that fateful summer of 1969, when Frances - tasked with surveying a dilapidated country house - first set eyes on the glamorous bohemian couple, Cara and Peter. She recalls the relationship they forged through sweltering days, lavish dinners and elaborate lies, and the Judas hole through which she would spy on the couple.

Were the signs there right from the beginning?

Or was it impossible to avoid the crime that split their lives open like rotten fruit? 

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Bitter Orange Press Reviews

Sumptuous and sinister with gothic hints, this is a compelling tale of blurred friendships - Prima

Beautifully written, with echoes of Barbara Vine and Daphne du Maurier - Andrew Taylor, Spectator Books of the Year 2018

Elegant, atmospheric, vivid - The Big Issue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 rich and hypnotic read - Tatler

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

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

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

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

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

Rich and compelling. Fuller is an accomplished writer - Observer

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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: 9780241983461
Publication date: 2nd May 2019
Author: Claire Fuller
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 288 pages
Genres: Modern and Contemporary Fiction, Relationship Stories,
Categories: Thriller / suspense, Crime & mystery,

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 Claire Fuller is our Putting Authors in the Picture feature for May 2019. Click here to read more about her author journey on our blog.

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