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.
'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
Nothing is quite what it seems in this engrossing, moreish novel about a naïve woman and the hedonistic couple who beguile her
Rich and compelling. Fuller is an accomplished writer
Reminds me of JL Carr's A Month in the Country, Daphne Du Maurier's Jamaica Inn, and Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Incredibly atmospheric, vivid, and intriguing. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't reading a forgotten classic.
A stealthy shocker about thwarted desire. A sinister, slow-burn tale that saves its most heart-wrenching revelation for last
A twisty, thorny, darkly atmospheric page turner about loneliness and belonging
As haunting as tuberose and delicate as a scalpel
Heady, claustrophobic . . . makes for perfect heatwave reading. Echoes Penelope Lively's Booker-winning Moon Tiger, Anita Brookner's Look At Me, and Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger
A rich and hypnotic read
This darkly smouldering, desperately sad, superior psychological thriller contains shades of Zoe Heller's Notes On A Scandal
It is rare for me to put down a novel and then immediately consider rereading it to see what cleverness I might have missed. This time, though, I am tempted.
Avni Doshi, Dawn French, Ali Smith, Yaa Gyasi, Claire Fuller and Kathleen MacMahon share their reactions to being nominated for one of literature's most prestigious awards.
Claire shares the classic novels that served as inspiration during her writing process, from authors including Jean Rhys to J.P. Hartley.