Bitter Orange UK Cover Reveal

Bitter Orange jacket: Oranges and dark leaves, with smashed plate

I’m very excited to be able to let you see the UK cover design for Bitter Orange. The book will be published by Fig Tree, an imprint of Penguin on 2nd August. I absolutely love the oranges design and the broken plate (very relevant to the story), but I’d really like to know what you think. I’m also very grateful to Gabriel Tallent (author of My Absolute Darling), for his wonderful quote.

The book is already available to pre-order from your friendly local independent book shop, or from those online places (you know where).

Here’s the jacket copy for the proof (the final wording is likely to change)

Description of what Bitter Orange is about.

If you’d like to see what the US cover will be, click here.


Cover Reveal for Bitter Orange (US)

Bitter Orange_cover hi-res.jpg

I’m absolutely delighted to reveal the cover for the US version of my third novel, Bitter Orange, which will be published on October 9th by Tin House. I’d love to know what you think!

From the attic of Lyntons, a dilapidated English country mansion, Frances Jellico sees them―Cara first: dark and beautiful, then Peter: striking and serious. The couple is spending the summer of 1969 in the rooms below hers while Frances is researching the architecture in the surrounding gardens. But she’s distracted. Beneath a floorboard in her bathroom, she finds a peephole that gives her access to her neighbors’ private lives.

Before long they are spending every day together: eating lavish dinners, drinking bottle after bottle of wine, and smoking cigarettes until 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 hedonistic couple, the boundaries between truth and lies, right and wrong, begin to blur. Amid the decadence, a small crime brings on a bigger one: a crime so terrible that it will brand their lives forever.

Bitter Orange is available to pre-order from your local independent bookstore (please consider using them first), or Amazon.

(The UK cover will be revealed in the next few weeks.)

Three Years Since Our Endless Numbered Days was Published

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I can’t believe it’s been three years since my debut novel, Our Endless Numbered Days was first published. The book has introduced me to some wonderful people, and has given me amazing experiences. Here are 10 things you might not know about me and this book:

  1. I can’t play the piano (there is a lot about piano music in the book), but I can just about read music thanks to a year of oboe lessons when I was fourteen.
  2. My mother is German, but like the mother in the book she never taught me German. (That’s the only resemblance my mother has to Ute.)
  3. The book was originally going to be called The Great Divide, and then Briar Rose (after Sleeping Beauty), until I decided on Our Endless Numbered Days (from the album by Iron and Wine whom I listened to while writing).
  4. I chose the name Reuben for one of the characters because that’s one I had on a list of possible name for my son before he was born. (He ended up with Henry.)
  5. When I was writing the book a friend shot me a squirrel and kept it in his freezer so I could see what it would be like to skin it, cook it, and eat it. (It went rancid when it was defrosted and I never even saw it.)
  6. As a child I was as obsessed with the film of The Railway Children as Peggy is. My sister had the album and I listened to it so often I can still quote it.
  7. The book was inspired by the real-life story of a teenager who turned up in Berlin saying he’d been living in the German forests for the previous five years.
  8. At the UK launch we had a chocolate cake in the shape of a cabin. It all got eaten. (Very Hansel and Gretel.)
  9. I am much more aware now of disaster preparedness and will sometimes buy more cans of beans than we actually need.
  10. I didn’t go to Germany for research, but I did walk the woods near where I live in England. I wanted to spend the night alone in them, but when it came down to it, I was too frightened.


Buy a copy of Our Endless Numbered Days via these outlets.
Read an article about what I’d learnt a year after Our Endless Numbered Days was published.
Watch a video of me drawing the cabin from Our Endless Numbered Days.
Contact me to ask me about the book, or if you’d like a set of book club questions.

Flash Fiction: White-out


Petersen tensed, peering. The headlights showed snow coming down thick and two feet of white road. He felt the wheels skate, and he braked without thinking. Beside him, Julius slammed his hands against the dashboard and swore, while the car turned in a circle, graceful even in its gliding. And then a hard, heavy lurch forwards into a ditch.
‘Christ, oh Christ,’ Julius cried.
‘It’s alright,’ Petersen said. Calmness he’d feigned for so long he almost believed it.
‘We’ll be too late!’
‘We’ll walk.’ Petersen took his doctor’s bag from the back seat and clambered out into the storm.


This is a 100-word flash fiction, inspired by the picture, provided by Dale Rogerson. Click here to join in and read others’ stories.


This week my second novel, Swimming Lessons, was selected by YOU Magazine in the UK as their Reading Group book. Click here to buy it at a discount, to see some book club questions, and to read an exclusive piece by me about what’s true and what isn’t in the novel.

What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever found in a library book?

Reading agency

Win a reading set of Swimming Lessons

Following on from the US competition about the oddest thing ever found in a library book, a UK version has now been launched. The Reading Agency and Penguin want librarians and UK book groups to tell them the oddest thing they’ve found in a book, for a chance to win a reading set of my latest novel, Swimming Lessons.

The book is partly about Ingrid, who writes letters to her husband and hides them in the books that he collects. And he collects books for their marginalia and the things that previous readers have left behind in them.

It’s always fascinated me – what gets left in a book. It makes me think about the person who read it before me and what they thought of it, or perhaps where they were when they were reading and what else they were doing, because I suspect that not everything left behind in library books should really be there, not even as bookmarks. The American competition turned up many instances of food and other things that people put between the pages for safe keeping and forgot.

To enter, either email your entry to or tweet it using #SwimmingLessons and tagging @ReadingAgency. The competition closes on 8 March when I’ll judge the weirdest entry. The winner will receive 12 signed copies of Swimming Lessons for their reading group or UK public library.

If you’d like book group questions for either my first novel, Our Endless Numbered Days, or for Swimming Lessons, drop me a line.

And if you’re in a book group, I’d recommend you joining the Reading Agency – it’s free and there’s lots of information on books that make good book group reads, as well as the occasional giveaway.

Flash Fiction: The Proposal


‘Henry,’ he said. ‘Please.’
‘Henry,’ she replied, but silently she said, ‘Doctor Berrisford,’ thinking about all the people he’d touched, and the parts of them he’d seen that no one else ever had.
‘We know each other well enough now, don’t we?’ When he smiled she could imagine the boy he once must have been.
‘Jean,’ she said. ‘Or Jeanie. Whichever you prefer.’
‘Jeanie,’ he said, taking her hand. She waited, not knowing quite for what or how these things were done.
The outside door opened and the wind swept in Julius. Jean pulled her hand out from Doctor Berrisford’s.


This is a 100-word piece of flash fiction, inspired by the photo above (provided by JS Brand). Apologies that it’s more of a scene than a story, but I’m thinking about characters for my fourth book, and this name just seemed to work. It’s a Friday Fictioneers story, a world-wide group of writers looked after by Rochelle Wisoff-fields. Anyone can write something and join in. Click here for more information.


I’ve been away from Friday Fictioneers for a while, but I have been busy. I met fellow FF, Neil MacDonald, and had the pleasure of judging the Farnham Short Story competition for his writing group. He interviewed me about my writing, here. And, the paperback of my second novel, Swimming Lessons, has been published by Tin House in the US, and Penguin in the UK.

UK Paperback of Swimming Lessons Published Today

SL Paperback

Today the paperback version of Swimming Lessons is published in the UK by Penguin. If you’d like to win one of two copies head over to my Instagram account: @writerclairefuller to find out how to enter.

If you’re thinking about what book to read next, and you’re considering reading Swimming Lessons in your book group, get in touch if you would like some questions to help get the discussion started.

And if you’ve already read Swimming Lessons and enjoyed it, please do tell your friends, or leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Thank you!

Swimming Lessons Paperback Published in US


The paperback of Swimming Lessons is published in the US today. My publisher, Tin House, has created a beautiful version of the hardback jacket using darker tones. And this version has book club questions in the back. If you do read it for your book club remember to take a picture of your group with the book and I’ll post the best to my Instagram account.

UK readers will have to wait a little longer for the paperback to be released.

The pictures above were taken and posted by some wonderful bookstagrammers, and if you’re on Instagram, I’d highly recommend following them all, not only for some wonderful bookish features, but lots of friendly bookish chat and reading suggestions.

Click to read more about Swimming Lessons.

Thanks to: @theloudlibrarylady @gracerajendran @bkInbooks @booksforyears @booksonherbrain @dlgillis20 @les_livres_ jennicapps15 @lblovesbooks for the pictures.

Claire’s and Tim’s Top 10 Books of 2017

i2017 Top 10 books

It’s that time again when Tim and I debate our top 10 books of the year. This can include any book we read and finished in 2017, no matter when it was published. If you like counting you may have noticed that in the picture we’re both only holding nine books. That’s because Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout was also one of my favourites, and My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent was also one of Tim’s. This year we’ve read less of each other’s than in previous years: I’ve only read two more from Tim’s list (Alice, and A Separation), both of which I loved, but didn’t quite make my ten. And Tim read Life Drawing this year, and Housekeeping a long time ago.

Click on the years if you’re interested in what we rated in 2016, and 2015.

I read 83 books this year. Below are more details about my top 10, starting with my top three (in no order). Click on the title for my full review on Goodreads:


My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent. This is an amazing debut. Difficult subject, but wonderful writing.

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. I read Home a while ago, and didn’t love it, but picked this up on a recommendation, and wow! It was the penultimate book I read in 2017, and still made it into my top three.

Good Behaviour by Molly Keane. Another oldie, reminiscent of Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift, and a lot of William Trevor novels.

Dadland by Keggie Carew. This won the Costa Biography Prize in 2016. I was lucky enough to hear Keggie speak at a festival in France. I have to admit I didn’t expect to love this as much as I did, but it made me laugh and it made me cry.

Life Drawing by Robin Black. This had sat on my shelves for a while, and I finally picked it up this year, and loved it.

The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor. I read all of Trevor’s short stories this year, and two of his novels. This is the book that came out on top.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. When I signed copies of Swimming Lessons in New York in February, in nearly every bookshop Saunders has just been in before me, signing his. This won the Man Booker Prize this year, and deservedly so.

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout. Olive Kitteridge made my top ten books last year, and this was every bit as good.

The Lonely City by Olivia Laing. I also read To The River by Laing this year, and it was a close thing between that and this book.

The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst. I haven’t read a dud Hollinghurst yet, I loved this.



And, as always, Tim doesn’t write reviews, but here are his, with links to Goodreads, starting with his top three (in no order):

To the Back of Beyond by Peter Stamm translated by Michael Hofmann

Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

Alice by Judith Hermann translated by Margot Bettauer Dembo

Both Ways is the Only Way I Want it by Maile Meloy

Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin

Marlena by Julie Buntin

A Separation by Katie Kitamura

Driftless by David Rhodes

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent


Have you read any of the books on our lists? I’d love to know whether you agree or disagree. Let me know in the comments below.


The paperback of my second novel, Swimming Lessons will be published on 9th of January in the US, and on 1st February in the UK.




Flash Fiction: Creeper


At first, the changes were subtle: a framed photograph moved to a different shelf, a favourite pair of socks missing, the coffee finished when we thought we had another packet. It was always when we were sleeping, and we slept deeply.

One morning the cat was hiding under the sofa, the orange juice was gone, and the cupboard door was ajar when we were sure we’d closed it. It was a mess in there, but eventually we found the loose board behind the top shelf. We stared into the dark tunnel beyond; neither of us prepared to go first.


This is a 100-word story inspired by the photograph above, this week supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields who also looks after all of us Friday Fictioneers. Click here to join in or here to read stories by other writers.


If you’re thinking about Christmas, I have an offer you might be interested in: Buy a copy of either Our Endless Numbered Days or Swimming Lessons for someone (or yourself) and I’ll post you a personalised card for free. Click here for more information.