Bitter Orange is a lovely slow burn, each fevered turn of the page making the reader implicit in the drama being played out in a decaying English country mansion the summer of 1969. Francis Jellico has been summoned to Lynton to research the architecture and gardens, but when she meets her downstairs neighbors Cara and Peter, a friendship blossoms that is not all that it seems on the surface. Tension mounts as the history of both parties unravel, culminating in an ending that will blindside even the most discerning reader. Claire Fuller is that rare writer that seems to reinvent herself with each novel, yet maintaining a clever style all her own.
October 2018 Indie Next List
“What I look forward to most in Claire Fuller’s writing is the deliberate unfolding of plot and character, the careful chemistry that crackles when characters observe one another and reader observes narrator. Bitter Orange is Fuller’s most mysterious novel yet, a house haunted by the stories its characters tell of their pasts and the slow unraveling of the truth. Dark and twisty and full of secrets, Bitter Orange is a satisfying page-turner perfect for readers who like a spooky and psychological read.”
— Kelsey O'Rourke, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI
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.