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It’s 1969, the summer of love still lingers in London, but Gilda is haunted by her wartime past. She walked out on her son Reuben when he was just a boy and fears he’ll never forgive her. When he marries a small, blonde gentile, she takes it as the ultimate rejection. Her cold, distant son seems transformed by love. What does his new wife have that she doesn’t?

As Gilda’s obsession builds, she starts to follow her daughter-in-law, copies her hairstyle and breaks into the newlyweds’ home. Watching her son and his wife stumble through their first few months of marriage, she is forced to reflect on how she ended up so alone. And when new and shocking truths come to light, she has the opportunity to put the past to rest. She must decide between doing what is right and the tantalising prospect of revenge.

Read by Charlotte Strevens
(p) Orion Publishing Group 2018


This is an original and heartbreaking novel - beautifully written with such a powerful voice. I couldn't put it down
Chloë Mayer, author of THE BOY MADE OF SNOW
A beautiful, poignant and - at times - unsettling insight into motherhood: its triumphs and disappointments but, above all, its power to transform relationships. I loved it
Elisa Lodato, author of AN UNREMARKABLE BODY
Gloriously sinister and yet, when you least expect it, quietly heartbreaking. Brilliant
Nicci Cloke, author of CLOSE YOUR EYES
Compelling and, in places, heartbreaking. A beautiful portrait of a mother's love
Joanna Barnard, author of PRECOCIOUS and HUSH LITTLE BABY
I hated Gilda at first, her judgemental, mean spirited view of the world. She seemed to be the kind of person I would run from at parties. Then, as time went on, this woman felt no longer bitter, but like someone I had come to love. Such clever storytelling . . . By the end I was running towards the finish line, desperate to see her come through
Amanda Smyth, author of BLACK ROCK and A KIND OF EDEN
Brilliantly paced, moving, thoughtful and sharp. Loved it
Renée Knight, author of DISCLAIMER
A moving, powerful story of love, obsession, guilt, lies and the lengths we'll go to for a second chance
Tammy Cohen
Bitter, yes, but also sweet -- and moving, and searching, and quietly devastating: a novel to detonate the heart. Steep yourself in this exquisite story. You won't regret it, and you won't forget it. Fans of Gail Honeyman and Joanna Cannon will love Bitter
A.J. Finn, author of THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW
Beautifully written and paced. I was hooked - heart in mouth from the beginning. Exquisite storytelling
Sally Magnusson, author of THE SEALWOMAN’S GIFT
BITTER is an incredible book about familial love gone wrong: deeply felt, subtly wrought and deliciously complicated
Rachel Heng, author of SUICIDE CLUB
It's not easy to make a reader fall in love with a character who is as flawed as Gilda. She is difficult, snooty, and unhinged - and I absolutely adored her. She deserves to take her place beside character greats such as Olive Kitteridge and Eleanor Oliphant . . . Although this is an incredibly moving book - I sobbed my way through the final 30 pages - there are some wonderfully funny moments too. Bitter has left me with one of the most severe book hangovers I've ever experienced. It's a masterpiece
Fiona Mitchell, author of The Maid’s Room
'I loved this book so much. Really moving and completely absorbing - I loved Gilda's voice'
Laura Marshall, author of FRIEND REQUEST
A beautiful and original story. I absolutely loved it
Clare Empson, author of HIM
[A] riveting study of a woman who takes motherly concern to rather sinister extremes . . . it slowly, tantalisingly becomes clear that Gilda has never been in charge of her life . . . and shocking secrets from her past will have the power to transform her present
Daily Mail
Jakobi's debut is ambitious in scope, investigating her central character in forensic detail, with short, pacy chapters that alternate between past and present . . . At once tragic and engrossing, this gimlet-eyed character study elicits sympathy and damnation, both for Gilda herself and for the circumstances that have defined her'
Provocative and skilful . . . The results are as hilarious as they are unsettling as Jakobi exploits the stereotype of the needy Jewish mother and we are drawn against our better judgment to side with out-of-control Gilda
Barry Forshaw, GUARDIAN
Bitter by Francesca Jakobi is stormingly good, deliciously addictive, as gripping as Zoë Heller's Notes on a Scandal. It's got to be the beach read of 2018!
Peter Bradshaw, Guardian Film Critic
BITTER is just wonderful. It's a very painful story but told with a kind of lightness and grace. It's so well-written, with such deceptive directness and simplicity, so well-organised and well-paced. Francesca Jakobi completely inhabits Gilda, in all her pain and obsession, all her self-deception and self-sabotage. An absolutely astonishing first novel
Michael Frayn, author of SPIES
Jakobi's imagery transports you from bombed London streets to the anything goes vibes at the end of the swinging '60s . . . a terrifying and poignant portrait of a lonely woman ****
I bloody loved this book. It was emotionally so intense, so addictive, I tore through it, unable to stop. Buy it. Read it
Susie Steiner, author of MISSING, PRESUMED and PERSONS UNKNOWN
BITTER hits every single one of my must-reads. An incredibly well-drawn, flawed female lead character; a 1960s setting and an unsettling yet realistic family dynamic . . . BITTER is deeply moving and so very wise. I absolutely adored it
Anne Cater, Random Things Through My Letterbox
I loved BITTER . . . an incredibly moving novel about a mother's guilt and shame at her inability to bond with her son. It is a beautifully woven tale that tilts with issues of class and race and religion. The reader's feelings towards the protagonist always balance somewhere between pity and indignation, never drifting towards any simplistic sense of certainty
Brett Anderson, GUARDIAN, Best Books of 2018
Gilda's personal trials will keep readers in thrall to the bittersweet ending
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY starred review
Warning to readers: this book is highly addictive and could keep you awake at night. It has a wonderfully compelling narrative, driven by a fascinating unreliable narrator . . . BITTER manages to be a psychological thriller while at the same time dealing with such complex subjects as female autonomy, post-natal depression and loneliness. It is a remarkable first novel . . . poignant, funny, tender and bittersweet