Wednesday 11 December 2019

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller @ClaireFuller2 @PenguinUKBooks #BitterOrange

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?

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller was published in paperback by Penguin on 2 May 2019. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I've read and enjoyed both of Claire Fuller's earlier novels and had been looking forward to Bitter Orange for a long time. Blog scheduling and life in general got in the way and I've only just got around to reading and reviewing.

Claire Fuller's writing is so evocative, this really is a beautifully crafted story. The reader joins Frances in the attic of the dilapidated house, Lyntons, she's there to do research on the follies in the gardens.Frances spots glamorous Cara and Peter, the couple who intend to spend the summer on the floor below her in Lyntons.

It's a long, hot summer and nearing the end of the hedonistic 1960s. Francis has led a sheltered life; primarily as a carer for her mother and when she finds a peephole beneath the floorboards in her room, she begins to watch Cara and Peter and is transfixed by their lives.

What follows is a sensual and wonderfully crafted story of new friendships and discovery. It's almost a coming-of-age story for naive Frances who is the complete opposite of bohemian and wordly Cara. These two female characters are wonderful though and I adored both of them; their complexities and differences are so well conveyed; their creation is breathtakingly good.

As expected; this friendship between Frances and Cara and Peter doesn't run smoothly and it becomes quite dark and somewhat troubling.

This is a beautifully detailed, character-led story, and oh what characters they are! There's an almost gothic feel to the whole story, with the house and surroundings taking centre stage throughout. There's a hint of mystery and of loss and longing and once more, this talented author kept me enthralled throughout the whole story.

An atmospheric treat!  Recommended by me

Claire Fuller is the author of Bitter Orange (2018), Swimming Lessons (2017), which was shortlisted for the Encore Prize for second novels, and Our Endless Numbered Days (2015) which won the Desmond Elliott Prize for debut fiction.
Twitter @ClaireFuller2
Author Page on Facebook
Instagram @writerclairefuller

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