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Uluru, Australia
  • Location: England

Bitter Orange

Bitter Orange

Why a Booktrail?

2000s: An old country manor,a hole in the floor, the chance to see another world..

  • ISBN: 978-0241341827
  • Genre: Fiction

What you need to know before your trail

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.

Travel Guide

Palladian Bridges and country houses

The house in the novel is fictional and called Lyntons. However the characters mention the bridges of Wilton or Prior Park, Stowe and Stourhead so there are  a few dotted around the country.

The Grand Estate in Hampshire was the main source of inspiration for the novel

The Country house at Stowe and the Palladian bridge were another inspiration.

As for Lyntons:

” I came out downstream where the land had been excavated into a broad basin that slowed the water and would have given the impression to the owners and their guests that there were viewing lake and not a dammed and manipulated stream. To my right, the water snaked out of sight around a bed, and when I stepped on to the bank a raft of ducks rose up from the green water, flapping and squawking…”

” A few years on and I had my first uninterrupted view of the bridge at the head of the lake. It was not as I had hoped. There was no temple on top. only more scrubby bushes and tangled plants growing across it from both banks. There were arches but they weren’t fine”

Late I walked the rest of the grounds and looked at the follies and some of the buildings: the obelisk, the mausoleum, the grotto , the kitchen garden and the model diary”

It was  a time when ” every view from the house had been designed to create an idealized English landscape of vistas and open spaces framed by the dark rising hangars”

Bitter Orange

Bitter Orange

Trail Gallery

Booktrailer Review

Susan: @thebooktrailer

Claire Fuller is an amazing writer. This novel had tinges of Atonement, Beguiled and novels like that with one single lonely manor house and the study of those within. It gave me frissons during it and I didn’t know why exactly, as if that’s kind of books. What is going on, who is Cara really and why do they want Frances in their lives? Why is Frances so socially awkward and looking through the hole in the floor looking for clues into a another world. These must be some of the most interesting yet complex and strange characters I’ve met in a long while. They really have secrets don’t they? Weird behaviours and beliefs.

There’s a lot of soul-searching and thinking inwardly, strange walks in the woods, creepy statues in the gardens and those Palladian bridges…well they do sound nice.

It was a lovely atmospheric novel however and the decay, the sense of wrong, the whole atmosphere, those bitter oranges really did sum up the novel well – it might be a beautiful fruit now, but bite it and taste the bitterness, then wait for the rot to set in.

It’s a beguiling read however and I was enchanted but also chilled by the whole thing.

Booktrail Boarding Pass: Bitter Orange

Destination : England Author/Guide: Claire Fuller  Departure Time: 2000s

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