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Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller
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Bitter Orange (original 2018; edition 2019)

by Claire Fuller (Author)

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3312458,447 (3.71)12
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.… (more)
Member:silkwall
Title:Bitter Orange
Authors:Claire Fuller (Author)
Info:Tin House Books (2019), Edition: Reprint, 328 pages
Collections:Your library
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Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller (2018)

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English (23)  German (1)  All languages (24)
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
I initially picked up this book because it had been compared to Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca; alas, Rebecca this book is not. The author is certainly aiming for the same atmosphere that made Rebecca so compelling and at times, I felt glimpses of what this novel might have been. The decaying English manor house, the glamour and mystery of a couple, the complicated emotions of the quiet fat girl who narrates much of the book, the shocking revelation of murder, all have the elements of a great novel, if only I could have connected with the characters. Overall, this was a good novel, an enjoyable read, but it fell short of depth the story really required. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Jul 26, 2020 |
First off: this is NOT a tear-through-it page-turner. For one, the writing is too darn good. I found myself rereading phrases and passages because they were so evocative or so perfectly tuned to capture a character's internal state. For another, the "action" is minimal. The narrator, an elderly Frances, is immobile in bed, and she describes both her painful present and a slice of remembered past--what seemed to have the makings of an idyllic summer in the 1960s. Invited to make a study of architectural curiosities on a tumbledown English manor estate, Frances takes up residence at Lytton, which is also home to a (ostensibly married) couple who seem to be in love but clearly have a past imbued with pain. (I found myself thinking of *Sophie's Choice*.) For the first time in her nearly-40-year-old life, Frances is not merely an observer. Together, Peter, Cara and Frances share picnics and dinners and explore the manor house. But from early on, the reader senses that the three of them are going to destroy what they have. The tragedy is not writ large or explosively. But it is deeply, painfully heartbreaking, and I wasn't surprised to see other reviewers mentioning DuMaurier's *Rebecca*. ( )
  KarenOdden | Jun 7, 2020 |
Another atmospheric page turner from Claire Fuller ( )
  karenshann | Dec 31, 2019 |
Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller is an old-fashioned slow burn of a thriller, set during the summer of 1969 in a dilapidated country house in rural England. Three people--a couple, Peter and Cara, and the narrator, Frances--are staying in the ruin to catalog any valuable architecture for the American who purchased it. Isolated as they are, the dynamic between the triangle gradually grows charged. Frances, sleeping in the attic, soon discovers a hole in her bathroom floor with a telescope installed through which she can spy on the couple's bathroom below. She also starts seeing strange things, unexplained--are there ghosts in the old house? As the summer wears on in its languid, drunken way, lonely loner Frances indulges her fantasies about her companions as young Cara spins stories for her that seem fantastical but that Frances wholeheartedly believes. Of course, reality will intrude eventually, and as older Frances is narrating the story from her death bed, we readers become more and more tense, waiting for the inevitable explosion. I really enjoyed the writing here, the isolated setting, the measured pace, the claustrophobic atmosphere. For me this was a thriller in an old-fashioned sense--and it helped that it was set in the 1960s--one that doesn't rely on twists and jagged writing, but rather on building character and tension up to a breaking point. ( )
1 vote sturlington | Dec 20, 2019 |
Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller is set in the crumbling, dilapidated estate of Lyntons in the summer of 1969. Socially awkward academic, Frances Jellico, is commissioned to spend the late summer cataloging and writing about the estate's gardens and architecture for the absentee owner. Upon arrival, Franny finds she doesn't have the house to herself. Peter, an antiques specialist accompanied by Cara, his girlfriend, has been sent to catalog the interior of the house. Frances, who who has spent most of her life caring for her ailing mother and away from social interaction, is in awe when the elegant couple begin inviting her to join them for dinner and picnics. However, something isn't quite right between the pair of lovers. Stories don't seem to add up, items begin to go missing around the home, and tensions slowly begin to build between the mansion's residents until the day a series of events will unfold that will change their lives forever.

Claire Fuller has written a well executed, atmospheric novel in a perfectly spine-tingling manner. I simply couldn't put it down. The novel is written in a back-and-forth style with the story being told from the narrator looking back on the summer of the past with short glimpses of the present day and the consequences they've endured. It seems to be a popular writing technique among many authors and it's one that I enjoy reading as it works to build the level of suspense. The darker mood was added to by the suspicion of a ghostly aspect. I loved the ending, as it was totally unexpected. Overall, this will be a book that stays with me for quite sometime.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the advanced copy given in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  BookishHooker | Dec 16, 2019 |
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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.

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