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Cover for Bitter


Francesca Jakobi


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'A novel to detonate the heart. Fans of Gail Honeyman and Joanna Cannon will love Bitter' A.J. Finn, author of The Woman in the Window
'As gripping as Zoe Heller's Notes on A Scandal' Peter Bradshaw, Guardian Film Critic
'Brilliantly paced, moving, thoughtful and sharp. Loved it
' Renée Knight, author of Disclaimer
'An absolutely astonishing first novel' Michael Frayn, author of Spies

It's 1969, and while the summer of love lingers in London, Gilda is consumed by the mistakes of her past. She walked out on her beloved son Reuben when he was just a boy and fears he will never forgive her. When Reuben marries Alice, he seems transformed by love - a love Gilda has craved his entire adult life. What does his new wife have that she doesn't? And how far will she go to find out? It's an obsession that will bring shocking truths about the past to light . . .

Praise For Bitter

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 novelMichael Frayn, author of SPIES

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

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

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' FINANCIAL TIMES

[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

Brilliantly paced, moving, thoughtful and sharp. Loved itRenée Knight, author of DISCLAIMER

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 BitterA.J. Finn, author of THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW

Gloriously sinister and yet, when you least expect it, quietly heartbreaking. BrilliantNicci Cloke, author of CLOSE YOUR EYES

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

A moving, powerful story of love, obsession, guilt, lies and the lengths we'll go to for a second chanceTammy Cohen

'I loved this book so much. Really moving and completely absorbing - I loved Gilda's voice'—Laura Marshall, author of FRIEND REQUEST

This is an original and heartbreaking novel - beautifully written with such a powerful voice. I couldn't put it downChloë 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 itElisa Lodato, author of AN UNREMARKABLE BODY

Compelling and, in places, heartbreaking. A beautiful portrait of a mother's loveJoanna 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 throughAmanda Smyth, author of BLACK ROCK and A KIND OF EDEN

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 Sipora Levy, JEWISH CHRONICLE

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 masterpieceFiona Mitchell, author of The Maid’s Room

A beautiful and original story. I absolutely loved it—Clare Empson, author of HIM

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 ****Jennifer Platt, SOUTH AFRICAN SUNDAY TIMES

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 itAnne Cater, Random Things Through My Letterbox

Gilda's personal trials will keep readers in thrall to the bittersweet ending—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY starred review

Compelling and, in places, heartbreaking. A beautiful portrait of a mother's love—Joanna Barnard, author of PRECOCIOUS and HUSH LITTLE BABY

Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 9781474607582, 352pp.

Publication Date: May 14, 2019

About the Author

Francesca studied psychology at the University of Sussex, followed by a stint teaching English in Turkey and the Czech Republic. On returning to her native London she got a job as a reporter on a local paper and has worked in journalism ever since. She's currently a layout editor at the FINANCIAL TIMES. BITTER is her first novel.