Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller shows the lives of three people Cara, Peter, Frances living together in an ancient house in England. Whilst Cara and Peter are a couple, even though Peter is married to someone else, Frances joins the pair much later and hopelessly falls for Peter. She is fascinated by the lively Cara, who has a passion for everything Italian and is a chronic liar – it seems as if every second word out of her mouth is made up.
The story starts in the future but isn’t a dystopia. F. is in a nursing home and quizzed about the happenings at house Lyntons, because even many years later it remains a mystery what actually happened between the trio and why the eccentric couple died.
The story reads quite easily and the author manages to draw the characters beautifully – it is almost as if the reader was sitting in the same big room with them and enjoying their lavishing feasts, just as much as them. The reader really starts resonating with the timid Frances and grows a hostility against the free spirited Cara, who mainly seems self absorbed and up to no good. One could argue, that her throwing away of the cheap ring and later on denying that she disposed of it is a referral to her relationship with Peter. Almost as if he seemed interesting when she was still a small town girl, with nowhere to go and then when she realized that he would not be able to live up to her needs, Cara was quick to draw a line between them.
Whilst reading I was often reminded of Atonement by McEwan and Frances kind of reminded me of the little sister, who told the story of her sisters gruesome fate to the curious readers.
All in all I would say it is a perfect book to read whilst traveling – it is not completely dumbed down like many other holiday-books, but will also not challenge the reader too much.