‘Bitter Orange’ by Claire Fuller


The English countryside provides the backdrop for this atmospheric suspense novel by Claire Fuller. Bitter Orange is the story of Frances Jellico, who in 1969 goes to stay at Lyntons, a dilapidated mansion, to survey the gardens’ architecture for its owner, a wealthy American. Jellico encounters two others who have been sent by the owner, Cara and Peter, to catalog the mansion’s interior. The couple mystifies the eccentric Jellico, and she is drawn further into their orbit after finding a Judas hole that allows her to watch them without being seen, complicated by the fact that they have befriended her.

The story follows Jellico as a thirty-something at Lyntons, and later as an old woman who must reckon with her disturbing past, a sinister tale filtered through the recollections of our unreliable narrator. Bitter Orange combines twisty psychological elements with a forward-moving plot, resulting in a satisfying denouement that reveals all.