Title: Bitter Orange
Author: Claire Fuller
Publisher: Tin House Books
Release Date: October 9, 2018
Pages: 332
Book Source: Hardcover

“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.” – Amazon

Kim’s Review

Bitter Orange reminded me of Summer days when I was a child. I could head out into the woods for an adventure, go swimming all day, or laze around the house eating random things from the cupboard. Claire Fuller perfectly captured the feeling of lazy summer days where you don’t have a care in the world.

And the descriptions of the dilapidated mansion and grounds had me wishing I was there with Cara, Frances, and Peter exploring a secret world. Their late night meals filled with delicious food and bottles of wine had me feeling jealous of their gluttony and wanting to send my husband to the store for the makings of a charcuterie board.

Bitter Orange was the perfect end of Summer read for me. It was filled with revelations I didn’t see coming and drama that I didn’t want to turn away from. It was slow at times, but isn’t that how you want Summer to pass. I was not bothered by the pace because Fuller kept giving just enough information to make me want to see what was going to happen next. 

How the trio’s story came to an end had me pausing to rehash what had happened. I enjoyed thinking back to the various parts in the story that foretold how it would end. But even with the foreshadowing I still found the ending to be, while not shocking, definitely an ending that I will remember for a long time.

This is a book that I will be recommending when people are looking for something a bit different. To remind them of Summers past and that living outside of your means may not always be the best thing to do.

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