Synopses & Reviews
From the author of Our Endless Numbered Days and Swimming Lessons, Bitter Orange is a seductive psychological portrait—a keyhole into the dangers of longing and how far a woman might go to escape her past.
From the attic of Lyntons, a dilapidated English country mansion, Frances Jellico sees them--Cara first: dark and beautiful, then Peter: striking and serious. The couple is spending the summer of 1969 in the rooms below hers while Frances is researching the architecture in the surrounding gardens. But she's distracted. Beneath a floorboard in her bathroom, she finds a peephole that gives her access to her neighbors' private lives.
To Frances' surprise, Cara and Peter are keen to get to know her. It is the first occasion 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 until 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, a small crime brings on a bigger one: a crime so terrible that it will brand their lives forever.
“Cannily releasing clues on the way to an explosive finale, Fuller moves fluidly between the time of the story and a period 20 years later . . . The lush setting and remarkable characters make for an immersive mystery.” Publishers Weekly
“Fuller is a master of propulsive action, making the ground spin as each unreliable narrator takes center stage. Every measured sentence builds on itself with the crumbling estate providing the saturated backdrop for this ultimately macabre tale. [Bitter Orange] offers a gripping and unsettling look at the ugly side of extreme need and the desperate measures taken in the name of love.” Booklist, Starred Review
“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, Starred Review
About the Author
Claire Fuller was born in Oxfordshire, England in 1967. She gained a degree in sculpture from Winchester School of Art, but went on to have a long career in marketing and didn't start writing until she was forty. She has written three novels: Our Endless Numbered Days, which won the Desmond Elliott Prize, Swimming Lessons, and Bitter Orange, forthcoming October 2018. She has an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Winchester and lives in Hampshire with her husband and two children.