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Publisher's Summary

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller, read by Rachel Bavidge.   

From the attic of a dilapidated English country house, she sees them - Cara first: dark and beautiful, clinging to a marble fountain of Cupid, and Peter, an Apollo. It is 1969, and they are spending the summer in the rooms below hers while Frances writes a report on the follies in the garden for the absent American owner. But she is distracted. Beneath a floorboard in her bathroom, she discovers a peephole which gives her access to her neighbours' private lives.  

To Frances' surprise, Cara and Peter are keen to spend time with her. It is the first occasion that 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 till 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 of that summer, a small crime brings on a bigger one: a crime so terrible that it will brand all their lives forever.  

©2018 Claire Fuller (P)2018 Penguin Books Ltd

Critic Reviews

"A twisty, thorny, darkly atmospheric page turner about loneliness and belonging" (Gabriel Tallent, author of My Absolute Darling)

"Incredibly atmospheric, vivid and intriguing. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't reading a forgotten classic." (Emma Healey)

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-26-18

Enjoyable story line with great characters.

I really enjoyed this audible book. The setting was very atmospheric and all the characters were intriguing.
I was a bit confused when it moved around to different times and places initially, but as the story built it all made sense.
The narrator was excellent! The characters formed in my mind based on the tones and accents used.
Would recommend this book!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • lucy smith
  • 10-05-18

a really intriguing story

I loved the descriptions, I could completely picture the characters and places. A truly unique story and twists right up to the very end.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • CarolynK
  • 10-04-18

Memorable story with an unforgetable character

This is a memorable story with an atmospheric country house setting. There's a slow intriguing build-up to a rather sudden denouement. But it is the supporting character, Caragh who steals the show - an amazing creation! Worth listening to for her alone. The narrator was good apart from giving Victor an annoying voice.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ros Foster
  • 10-01-18

Great story well told

Really enjoyed this audiobook. The plot was tense at times and played with your sympathies throughout. Great twist at the end too. Would highly recommend.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • the typist
  • 08-25-18

Sumptuously dark read...

This may well be my favourite book of 2018. Although I guessed the twist within minutes it never really mattered. The writer spins such a sticky, pungent and darkly indulgent tale that I wanted to read it all over again as soon as I’d finished. I adored the central character and only wish Claire Fuller could teach lesser (but better selling) authors how to truly craft an original line.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Rhian jones
  • 11-09-18

Brilliant slow burner.

This book took time to get going, but then I was hooked. Claire Fuller’s descriptive writing created such a clear picture in my mind that I almost feel like I have watched it on a screen. The narrator Rachel Bavidge’s amazing performance certainly added to the story. I finished this book a few days ago but I can not stop thinking about it. I have read many audiobooks over the past 6 months, but this is up there with the best. I throughly recommend it!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jo
  • 10-27-18

Curious

An interesting story with some surprises.
I can't honestly say that I liked any of the characters but they were well crafted and intriguing, and overall I kept listening to find out what it was all about. I would read another book by the same author.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
  • stink
  • 10-21-18

Good read.

Enjoyed this book. The story was intriguing and keep you wanting more. The narrator was good and spoke well and clear so please give it ago 😉😉😉

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Finakilly Chris
  • 10-11-18

Peacocks and Pevsner

Listening to Bitter Orange I could almost taste the dust as Claire Fuller brilliantly evokes the sense of finding oneself in an uneasy, decaying English country house during a long heatwave. We guess from Frances’s first arrival at Lyntons – she is large, friendless and socially clumsy – that matters may not turn out well. Her unexpected downstairs neighbours immediately fascinate her – exuberant Cara and louche Peter, two 1969 bohemians who soon appear to have shady histories. Frances’s repeated temptation to spy on them through a peep-hole into their bathroom underlines just how irresistible this lonely woman finds them. The novel cleverly makes us empathize and identify with Frances, for she has at least conscientiously read her Pevsner on the house’s treasures, unlike lax Peter. Yet somehow we doubt her account can be a balanced one.

Some scenes are pleasurably excruciating: Frances is invited to a drunken supper and turns up in a grand evening dress straining over her late mother’s antiquated foundation garments. My favourite scenes explore the house. The orangery is a place of mouldering fruitfulness, where a hidden door, leads dream-like, into a hidden delight. There is a glorious peacock decorated room where all the birds’ eyes have been scissored away. Accompanying Frances to the downstairs cellars seemed to frighten me even more than her. And her own servants’ attic room (for Cara and Peter have of course grabbed the finest apartment) has skin-crawling odours and hints of a ghostly inhabitant. Frances’s limited comprehension of her neighbours’ desperation allows for plenty of clever dramatic irony, until ultimately the reader is left to mull over the final scenes playing with fascinating questions and disturbing answers.

If the audible edition has a fault it is in the accents, which are a hard ask for any narrator. Switching between plummy and pastiche Italian for Cara grates at times. And Victor is peculiarly lugubrious.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Harriet Ellis
  • 09-12-18

Wonderful

This is the second audio book I’ve listened to by this writer the other is swimming lessons and it’s just as captivating if not more so.
I was sorry to finish I will miss these characters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful