Synopses & Reviews
An NPR Best Book of the Year
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’s 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.
"Unsettling and eerie, Bitter Orange is an ideal chiller." Time Magazine
“Bitter Orange twists and bends, arouses and agitates, like a seductive nightmare. . . . With sensations so alive on the page, you’re constantly kept on your toes, attuned to the mania. You’ll ask, beguiled: What’s really going on here?” Entertainment Weekly
“Fuller, a skilled stylist, is very good at letting you know Frances by degrees and at describing a setting in which the ordinary rules of life feel suspended . . . You can taste the wine, smell the musty fabrics and the overripe fruit, hear the hum of lazy insects and track the teasing suggesting that something will go terribly wrong.”
The New York Times Book Review
“Page by page, Fuller enchants us with prose as thick as clotted cream, only for us to realize too late that she’s been ensnaring us at every turn.” The Paris Review
“Lovely and lush prose that only adds to the sense of dread pervading the novel . . . Bitter Orange is an absorbing exploration of the many lies we tell to others — and to ourselves.”
Vulture, Best Crime Books of the Year
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 two other novels, Our Endless Numbered Days, which won the Desmond Elliott Prize, and Swimming Lessons. She has an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Winchester and lives in Hampshire with her husband and two children.