Review: Bitter Orange, by Claire Fuller

bitter orange claire fullerRating: ★★★☆☆

Genres: Historical Fiction, Drama, Mystery


This kind of story is such a recipe for success for me – it’s dark and twisty and feels so personal, with how close you get to the characters. It gave me Tender is the Night vibes and also a bit of Tangerine. I think if you enjoyed either book, you’ll like this one too!

It’s a hot summer, and Frances is moving into a grand but decadent house to write a report. This is going to be her home until late August – and then she meets her neighbors. Gorgeous and dark-haired Cara, and Peter, so very handsome. It is 1969, and Frances is excited for her new life after taking care of her mother for 10 years. Cara and Peter are incredibly charming, and she is drawn by their magnetism and their offer of friendship. But there are dark secrets between them and Frances doesn’t know what she got into…

I was very excited for this book! It’s right up my alley, and I have been meaning to read other books by Claire Fuller before, so I started with this one. This is a slow burn novel, and has such an atmospheric read, I think it’s perfect for bringing to the beach or just some warm place to put you right into the setting of the story – a hot summer, delicious, indulgent dinners, and perhaps a bit too much wine. In this sense, it reminded me a bit of Commonwealth, which also made me want to pick up a drink!

All three main characters of this book are difficult people in their own way, each one with their own dark secrets. The background stories of each of them and the story itself unfolds languidly through the pages, a slow burn to the plot twists that took me by surprise. I really enjoyed the strange relationship they had with each other, and I wanted to know everything about them – I still have many questions left for them! I did deduct a few stars because I wished the ending had been a bit more explored and some points of the story really talked about instead of glossed over. But as a whole, the story is intense, decadent and really atmospheric. I recommend it for fans of dark, twisted, complicated relationships kind of stories.

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