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Bitter Orange Epub ☆ ´ eBook pandora

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 livesTo 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 dazzledBut 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 uite 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

10 thoughts on “Bitter Orange

  1. says:

    I can’t pretend any longer that I haven’t read this book can’t put off writing a review forever for my own sanity My head is swimming with thoughts I’ll be back with things I’d like to express share review call it what you want soon still need a day or two NO OTHER BOOK THIS ENTIRE YEAR has me THIS involved in thought Claire Fuller is phenomenal brilliant INCREDIBLY TALENTED “Bitter Orange” demonstrates just how skillful and extraordinary of a writer she isDamn this book was GOOD Review in a day or two I’m BackSo it’s true I’ve been thinking about this book a lot This literary fiction is filled with symbolism in which I’ve been waffling between writing a traditional type review about the plot and characters or the process I’ve been going through or a little of both I’ve never hesitated this long to write a review nor waited this long after reading a book almost 2 weeks since finishing it with close to 800 notes If I were a college literature professor wanting to pick a book which had potential to create stimulating discussion this would be my pick I’d want to be in that class It would be much too egotistical of me to think I understood everything about this book I’ve been trying ha you can laugh nowbut I am left pondering about the characters still thinking about this entire novel And isn’t that what great literature does? Drive us a little into our head? This may be called “Bitter Oranges” citrus aurantium having a sour juiceless taste but the novel itself was oozing juicy Claire Fuller had me reading excerpts from The Bible DeuteronomyNO KIDDING I was researching for days many different beliefs about bitterness I couldn’t help but wonder if Claire did too She must have The Vicar in this story Victor wanted to leave the church which lead me to uestion whywhich lead me to wonder “what is the root that causes deadly bitter fruit to sprout in the church? And that’s about the time I started doing my own research which lead me to the Bible I think I found answers well that pacified my mind anyway I admit I was getting carried away but I was involved and as I returned to reading Claire’s book it seemed like the lenses that I was looking through were clear Victor the church the graveyard the grounds and the entire Lynton House in England were vital to this story —— summer of 1969But the focus is an in depth psychological character study of Frances Claire and Peter who were each hired by a wealthy American to make a systematic list of the items found appraise the groundsFrances was hired for the garden architecture Peter and Claire were employed to catalog inside the house The work that the trio were hired for is besides the point It got them there It’s everything else that happens that propels the reader to keep readingThere was a sentence just one small sentence we come to late in this novel that that me JUMP OUT OF MY SEAT LAUGH SILLY I had a few words of my own to add “If we were so inclined we could read all sorts of things into that note” I’m aware it’s completely out of context and I’m not giving you any backstory however I laughed because after submerging my entire heart and soul into this book which was my choice pleasure I felt like screaming these words“Ha ya think? WE COULD READ ALL SORTS OF THINGS INTO THIS NOVELIt’s nearly impossible to properly summarize this novel So here are a few ‘pick from a hat’ things I’ll share no spoilers just my thoughts and or feelingsEVERY CHARACTER HAS A PAST THEY WOULD RATHER FORGETSince this is a character driven story it’s not important one way or another to like the characters A little about Frances JellicoFrances like a petulant child at age 39 had so much self obsession yet so little self awareness As AN ADULT Frances shared a bedroom in the same bed with her mother in an apt in London There ‘was’ a second bedroom but mother used it for ‘her’ clothes Not only did Frances take care of her for ten years before her mother died she took in her mother’s critical words which Frances inhabited as part of her own inner judgmental voice after her death telling her what to do When Frances arrived in England free from her mother new job new beginning I found it interesting that Frances wore her mother’s underwear and a locket around her neck given to her by her mother with a photo inside of a generic woman If you read this book take notice of ‘when’ Frances would touch it Always at very specific times consciously or unconsciously More characteristics of Frances low self esteem socially inept flaky cautious envious jealous resentful ignorant about basic living skills feels out of place flips between being morally righteous and betraying her own values not comfortable in her own skin emotionally and physically longs obsessively to be accepted a good listener but a taker anxious somewhat delusional A little about Cara Affable assertive and charismatic talkative self assured gregarious Her mother Isabel’s dreams were without desired resolution and the apple didn’t fall far from the tree with her either Cara was a yummy cook messy housekeeper fun energy beautiful dreamed of moving to Italy Saying about Cara might tempt me to write spoilers So that’s enough A little about Peter He has a fairly pleasant disposition He ‘seems’ caring nice balanced just don’t let anything fool you Nice and balanced aren’t theme words for this novel A little about Lynton House The mansion including The entrance hall music room drawing room gun room sitting room dining hall smoking room billiards room saloon And 10 bed and dressing rooms five bathrooms and staff accommodation Seated in a magnificent Timbered Park of 764 acres with ornamental lake Fountain Parterre Walled kitchen garden classical bridge orangey of outstanding design stable block model dairy ice house Grotto Mausoleum Sundry Follies inc Obelisk etc and range of outbuildings Pretty cool right? but remember this house isn’t sparkling Only two bathrooms are working in the entire house with uestionable plumbing at that Frances hoped she would discover a Palladian Bridge elegant than those at Wilton or Prior Park butit was not as she hoped Yetwalking by the lake or through the woods that were dense and spongy undisturbed for years had a uiet type ‘elegance’ with a gothic type of appreciation Peter Cara and Frances begin to spend a lot of time together eating drinking and smoking DON’T think for one minute that I’m going to share anything of much importance “All priest have a duty to secrecy” reviewers do too 🤫Suspense beautiful prose with compelling characters Frances as the unreliable narrator with depth so layered and complex that I found it awe inspiringLove it hate it or are lukewarm about it you DO KEEP THINKING ABOUT IT I loved it Claire Fuller has become a solid favorite author for me

  2. says:

    Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller is a 2018 Tin House Books publication This one may be an acuired taste for some but I felt this one all the way down to my toes During 2018 I found myself reaching than ever before for comforting light and easy 'feel good' books to soothe my troubled soul But I do still have a huge tendency to gravitate towards darker troubling moody or heavily laden novels and especially love it when I pick up on a Gothic tone intertwined in there as well This novel has all these elements but also asks the reader to work a few things out on their own So while this book certainly stimulates the senses it also gives the brain a little exercise too As Frances lay on her death bed she is often visited by an old friend a vicar who gently but urgently coaxes her into relaying back to him what really happened in the year 1969 This is the year Frances was hired to do research at Lyntons a once grand estate in Hampshire which now lies in ruins Frances is staying on the estate with a couple named Peter and Cara who are also doing research work I am obdurate and uncooperative drifting on a sea of memory between islands of lucidityAs the three of them settle in together Frances who has spent the bulk of her adult life caring for her mother is suddenly overwhelmed by the prospect of being friends with the Cara and Peter Cara is usually uite willing to regale Frances with stories of how she and Peter met and the complicated route they took which eventually landed them at the dilapidated estate She also shares with Frances the tragic events in her life which have left her feeling fragile and unstable But her tales are often fantastical and Peter tries to downplay her outlandish claims leaving Frances unsure of who or what to believe But the world is a nicer place when you think everyone is telling the truth There are no agendas no hidden motives; no one lies for dramatic effectRight away I was drawn in by the beautiful prose which sucked me right into the pages and held me there as I listened to Frances’ tale unfold tingling with both anticipation and dread However the story initially unfolds in frustratingly slow pace and the book's structuring is occasionally jarring Other than that this atmospheric and thought provoking novel held me completely spellbound I loved the metaphors and allegory the history the mild supernatural suggestions and that shocking conclusion caps it all off beautifully The author did such an amazing job with creating vivid characterizations and that deliciously thick but tantalizing atmosphere Frances' clever narrative and detailed storytelling adeptly and successfully lured me willingly along to a wickedly stunning and unforeseeable outcome Clair Fuller is an author I will be keeping a very close eye on 45 stars

  3. says:

    ’Do our actions betray our nature?’’ ‘The setting a dilapidated mansion in the idyllic English countryside The era 1969 the most exciting time to be alive in recent History The time when conventions and traditions are shuttered to make room for freedom and euality Frances arrives in Hampshire to write a report on garden architecture on behalf of the new owner of the mansion Her mental state is uite unstable since the death of her mother Soon she discovers that she’s not alone in Lyntons A young couple Cara and Peter has arrived with a similar purpose of research The three of them become friends and start what is seen by Frances as a riotous living Reports are far from ready but the wine the cigarettes and all delicacies are in abundance As are secrets lies and weird noises in the night Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller is simply one of the best novels of the year ‘’I discovered that in the early part of the morning a mist hovered in the hollows of the estate and the grass was wet with dew There was a smell in the air of bonfires the land already preparing for autumn’’ Where to start without resorting to spoilers? There are so many beautiful sentences paragraphs The extract above is only a minuscule portion of the poetic haunting writing reflecting Frances’ s thoughts She is our sole narrator everything we see is what she sees As a result our perception is limited and the story unfolds like a China box whose contents are visible through mist The writing is atmospheric right from the start The setting of the mansion brings the work of Agatha Christie and Daphne Du Maurier to mind The old church the graveyard the mausoleum the enigmatic village And then the eerie feeling becomes and tense and sinister Birds lying dead footsteps reflections on windows rage that is about to burst through The sultry summer days and nights are full of whispers and unuttered feelingsApart from the setting the story benefits from the characters Frances will give you so much trouble She is the definition of the doormat personality Or is she? Her relationship with her mother has affected her to such an extent that she has no knowledge of the world she is devoid of any substance Her sentimental aspirations sound like those of an immature teenager down to the hearty eyes and the flying unicorns Strict family rules religious upbringing and a distorted notion of duty have done their work well And yet Fuller succeeds in making her interesting and us invested in her story Cara on the other hand? I loved her so much She is a whirlwind a force of nature Poor Frances cannot hold a candle to her Cara’s belief in the traditions of her native Ireland gives her an even mysterious aura as opposed to Frances’s old school romantic phantasies Both women are the epitome of the unreliable narrator in all its glory Having said that I must admit that I couldn’t stomach Frances and her melodramatic thoughts along with her self pity However I understand that this attitude of hers was essential to the story Between the two women poor Peter is us trying to make some sense of the unexplainable world around himI can’t say There are so many twists and revelations Grief loss love obsession madness The characters the house the village Everything is part of a complex dark mystery and when a book has this effect on you you know that it has succeeded This is a perfect novel for discussion a uality mystery ‘’uality’ a rare word these daysJust be cautious and do not expect to have all the answers laid out in front of you ‘’Victor thinks that digging graves might be a good job fresh air physical exercise not many people you have to talk to’’ Many thanks to Penguin Random UK and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest reviewMy reviews can also be found on

  4. says:

    35 starsFrances Jellico is dying As she lies in her bed awaiting death she looks back on her life and that summer in 1969 which left its mark on her forever Frances Jellico was the caretaker for her Mother for the last ten years of her mother's life When her Mother died Frances went to live at an old crumbling estatemanor called the Lyntons to research the architecture of the gardens Frances will not be alone at the Lyntons An intriguing couple Cara and Peter have also moved in Peter has been tasked with evaluating the contents of the estate for the American Buyer It just so happens that they have the room below and Frances has discovered that by moving the floorboard she can spy on the couple below ScandalousFrances is the sole narrator and it is interesting to see things from her point of view As she spent most of her life with her mother she is slightly awkward naive and lacking in life experiences that one might have by the age of thirty nine years old as she is in 1969 Frances is happy when the young couple invite her into their lives She is invited to spend time with them and soon the three of them spend most of their time together Frances also makes friends with the local Vicar who is uestioning his faith while his congregation diminishes each weekAs this book does not have many characters and most of the time is spent at the Manor there is not a lot of action in this book I found this to be a slow read with just enough plot development occurring to keep my interest I struggled initially with this book but around the 30 35 percent mark things picked up for me The days pass in this book in a slow and lazy fashion and I found that is also how I read this book Remember Frances is looking back on her life in this book and I often wondered what was so great about being at the Lyntons that had her still thinking about it after so many years? Well my fellow readers keep readingI am glad that I did not review this book right away I took some time to think about the book and I am happy that I did This story slowly seeped into me and I found myself thinking about it from time to time upon finishing the book Have you ever read a book and felt meh while reading it and then can't get the book out of your head? That was me I discovered that I enjoyed it than I thought I did I am used to page turners which I can power read and which keep me on the edge of my seat This is not that type of book This is a book which as I said slowly seeps into the reader With so few characters the story really is character driven The pace is slower but this book did have some reveals and revelations There were some plots twists and turns at the end Nothing too shocking but the reveals pack enough punch to create some tension and small shocksGoing back to Frances she was a very interesting character I kept wondering if she just repressed or is there going on with her? Is she a reliable narrator? Is she so desperate for companionship that it is affecting her judgement? Plus Peter and Cara have their own issues both individually and with each other Cara is another interesting character and she kept me scratching my head If I could have known another character's POV I would have loved to have known Cara's thoughts Most of what we and Frances learn about Peter and Cara is told to Frances by Cara But is she reliable? Frances has enough interactions with Peter to learn that some things may not be as they seem Or is he unreliable? Then there is the Vicar with his own issues and his friendship with Frances It's safe to say that all the characters have issues and it was interesting watching them orbit each other and get involved in each other's worlds Thank you to Tin House books and Edelweiss for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review All the thoughts and opinions in this book are my ownRead of my reviews at wwwopenbookpostcom

  5. says:

    I've heard it said that the devil is in the details This novel not only has some great descriptive passages but they are used in a way that draws the reader into the story while also making this memorable A limited amount of characters Frances near forty a spinster who yearns for love has spent over twenty years taking care of her mother Cara a young Irish woman who loves everything Italian and her partner Peter who seems to be Cara's anchor Then lastly but he appears near the beginning is the churchman Victor he tries to get the truth from Frances twenty years laterA crumbling house unreliable narrators one can never uite believe what they are being told Indeed it is in the descriptions the details and what is not being said that provide the clues The suspense starts at a low boil but ratchets upward as the book progresses Always again aided by the details a face in a window a dead bird the sound of someone beneath the bath a smell of urine I felt a underlying sense of dread I enjoyed this book immensely became lost in the characters story never knowing uite what was going on who was telling the truth and what was being hidden A key theme is obsession and even though right in the beginning we know how one character ends up we don't know why we do know these type of stories seldom end well It seems unless I missed something that a few threads remained unanswered Surprisingly that didn't at all dim my appreciation for this wonderful workARC from Edelweiss

  6. says:

    I am the person who stands at the police tape watching someone's life unravel —Frances JellicoPrickly old lady Frances Jellico lies dying in an 'end of life' facility of some kindShe is visited by Victor a seemingly dubious vicar yes Victor the vicar who hopes to extract a confession from Frances for a hitherto unspecified crimeSo with the 'enigmatic beginning' box firmly ticked Frances goes on to recall the English summer of '69 and a ramshackle country home whose crumbling grandeur serves as a metaphor for what is to followMiss Jellico our unworldly main protag is one of life's bystanders when it comes to hugging kissing and general frivolity Therefore it comes as a great surprise not least of all to Frances that she becomes friends with cool hedonists Cara and Peter While Frances thrives academically her social skills are decidedly wooden Cara and Peter on the other hand are captivating outgoing and friendly But all is not what it seems Why the sinister undertones? And what will become of this improbable friend triangle?This book has the feel of one written several decades ago so kudos to Claire Fuller for that especially as it perfectly suited the period Fuller is clearly an accomplished writer; her narrative style reminded me very much of Anita Brookner's This wouldn't be for everyone though; an eager reader is likely to lose patience with itThough the story lacked the animation and pizzazz that I hope for in a novel it simmers than it boils edgy stylish writing such as this should always be celebratedAn easy five stars

  7. says:

    I can say for certain that the writing is beautiful but I had issues with the narrative and couldn't follow well Maybe I'll try again I won't rate for now

  8. says:

    A dying woman’s memory of 1969 the summer in which she lived with a mysterious couple in a crumbling English country house is delivered with a perpetual air of dreaminess Bitter Orange opens strong with echoes of Shirley Jackson and Daphne du Maurier A dilapidated estate that extends into shadows being choked by a garden run wild and a woman named Frances whose life is mechanical faithless stagnant She’s repressed by a lack of physical interaction and so consumed with loneliness that when she happens upon a judas hole in her bathroom floor – one that provides a secret view into her downstairs neighbors’ bathroom – curiosity pricks at her mind It’s the perfect setup for a voyeuristic mystery fraught with tension and secrets But Frances soon shifts her focus from watching her neighbors to interacting with them They form an odd little non physical ménage à trois that showcases Frances’ social shortcomings and draws readers into a tedious exploration of teasing fact from fiction an exercise that leaves several small details unexplained The final insult is an unsurprising “reveal” Fuller packs Bitter Orange with bursts of luscious prose and reoccurring imagery of threes along with perpetual references to the capriciousness of water hint at what’s to come She moves seamlessly from the present to the past abandoning “ chronology in favour of waves of memory” But remove the telescopic peephole and the narrative remains the same making Frances’ judas hole nothing than a gimmick to give an uneventful tale some much needed allure

  9. says:

    He strokes my hair and doesn't answer or I haven't spoken Perhaps he believes that pain as well as joy makes us who we areSeriouslyI had no idea what a haunting creative storyline this would be that would find itself hidden behind that gorgeous cover Claire Fuller carves her words into a deftly atmospheric telling surrounded by the lush English countryside As the reader leans in the fragrance of tart over ripened fruit fills the air And there are plenty of sharp edged seeds hiding within the fleshy pulpIt's 1969 and three individuals will find themselves drawn to an ancient Lyntons mansion A rich American has bought the property and is in the midst of traveling Frances fortyish and unmarried will take to the grounds in order to sketch ideas for architectual renovations Cara and Peter have already taken over the first floor Peter has been assigned the task of taking inventory of the mansion's vast holdings Fuller has been blessed with the rare ability to craft her characters with patterns of life bruises and flaws seen readily by others on the exterior But it is the darkened passageways of the soul that she stirs gently at first and most rigorously as the story deepens We find Frances still suffering from the loss of her wicked controlling mother Peter keeps an attending eye on Cara who seems to drift into long and winding stories of her past life which may or may not be true Their unexpected friendship will take on a neediness lined with pure fascination Lines will be crossed and conseuences will find their way inHave patience with this one It begins with slow burning embers It has the warm fiery glow of symbolism as the story unfolds Your eye will catch them as the story progresses and how they reflect the characters' past lives The wind tunnel of events are brilliantly saved for the grand finaleBitter Orange just as the title suggests may not be for everyone You'll see that in the split of the reviews But the writing is stellar and the low simmer is purposefully set by this talented author And it just begs for discussion at the end

  10. says:

    3★“ It was so hard to get it right the way other people had conversations back and forth with no effort I wondered not for the first time how it was done she thanked me for listening and I saw it was that easy that was all I had to do to make a friend; she wasn’t looking for answers”Frances lived for years in a small flat she shared with her ungracious ungrateful invalid mother As a young woman she didn’t cross paths with people often so never really learned the social niceties “Four shop people spoke to me with a ‘good morning’ or a ‘thank you’ as they handed over my items or change I liked to count these things More than seven was a good day” She is also heavy and awkward we know her well either from our own lives or many other stories But she is telling us this herself as she’s wasting away in a hospital bed As an old lady she can be uite clever and sneaky hinting at secrets a visiting vicar keeps waiting for her to reveal but keeping them from him and usShe reminisces about the time she spent at Lyntons a grand old country manor of countless rooms where she was cataloguing the “follies” and value of some of the pieces for its new American owner She was hoping he’d come and renovate it but she’s not the only one thereThere is a couple Peter and Cara who are living there—let’s be clear they are all camping there—while Peter is cataloguing the artwork The vicar was a man she met in the local church who seems pretty interested in her and her “friends”This was a kind of interesting premise although I have to say I thought immediately of young Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby who is sort of “adopted” by his cousin Daisy and her husband and friends and eventually the wealthy Jay Gatsby who hosts lavish parties Daisy fixes Nick up with a friend of hers but Nick ends up as a sort of intermediary between Daisy and Jay who is besotted with her it’s a familiar scenario where a younger usually person acts as a kind of excuse for a would be couple to interact Whether it’s adults in a park watching their kids or a teen couple offering to take a little brother to the movies so they have an excuse to hang outIn this story Frances is a kind of sounding board for both Cara who is a wild and free Irish girl and Peter who is older than Cara and closer in age to Frances They welcome her to the “home” show her to her room in the attic and she tries to settle inBut there are noises smells sounds and some odd sightings It’s a setting that is gothic than Gatsby but the mystery and intrigue of this one didn’t hit the mark for me I enjoyed Swimming Lessons last year than some other readers and I'm sure there are others who will really enjoy this one I still liked her writing which ranges from poetic to amusingly insightful And I did feel for Frances caught up as she was by her fantastic new friends“There was no wind that afternoon the lake was a new penny lost in an unmown lawn and the unseen birds that chirped and twittered in the bushes didn’t disturb a twig I lowered myself to the concrete – it is never easy for a large woman to sit on the floor especially one wearing a girdle She must fold her legs beneath her as a horse does and there comes a moment where she has to let go and drop and hope it will work out all right”Also true of unfit older people too Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Books for the preview copy from which I’ve uoted