Book Review: Bitter Like Orange Peel by Jessica Bell

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Title: Bitter Like Orange Peel
Author: Jessica Bell
Publisher: Vine Leaves Press
Publication date: November 1st 2013
Genres: Adult, Contemporary



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Bitter Like Orange PeelBitter Like Orange Peel
Jessica Bell
Vine Leaves Press, November 2013
ISBN 978-09875931-1-5
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Six women. One man. Seven secrets. One could ruin them all.

Kit is a twenty-five-year-old archaeology undergrad, who doesn’t like to get her hands dirty. Life seems purposeless. But if she could track down her father, Roger, maybe her perspective would change.

The only problem—Roger is as rotten as the decomposing oranges in her back yard according to the women in her life: Ailish, her mother—an English literature professor who communicates in quotes and clichés, and who still hasn’t learned how to express emotion on her face; Ivy, her half-sister—a depressed archaeologist, with a slight case of nymphomania who fled to America after a divorce to become a waitress; and Eleanor, Ivy’s mother—a pediatric surgeon who embellishes her feelings with medical jargon, and named her daughter after “Intravenous.”

Against all three women’s wishes, Kit decides to find Roger.
Enter a sister Kit never knew about.
But everyone else did.

Family issues are frequently a minefield of emotions and those emotions are sometimes of the very negative sort. Bitter Like Orange Peel is an interesting study of the dynamics of a family connected only through the actions of one man whose behavior causes ramifications he has never considered.

Two women and their respective daughters have a years-long friendship even though one of the women was Roger’s wife and the other was his mistress. Eleanor accepted Ailish years past so that the two half-sisters, Ivy and Kit, could grow up knowing and loving each other. Such altruism is certainly not to be expected but makes Eleanor an admirable woman this reader would like to know even though she is also rather remote, almost standoff-ish.

This relationship among the four is disturbed when the two younger women decide to find Roger and, along the way, learn much more than they bargained for. This more-or-less comfortable family is about to be shaken from its static and unreliable foundations. Many readers will find themselves relating to all these very diverse characters in one way or another and will be especially cognizant of the fallout that can come to light many years after the behavior that started it all. The one reaction I can almost guarantee is that there will be no love for Roger.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2013.

About the Author

Jessica BellIf Jessica Bell could choose only one creative mentor, she’d give the role to Euterpe, the Greek muse of music and lyrics. This is not only because she currently resides in Athens, Greece, but because of her life as a thirty-something Australian-native contemporary fiction author, poet and singer/songwriter/guitarist, whose literary inspiration often stems from songs she’s written. Jessica is the Co-Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal and annually runs the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca. For more information, please visit her website:

Links:  Website  //  Goodreads  //  Facebook  //  Twitter


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