BITTER by Francesca Jakobi

Book Review

Book Description: 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 Ruben when he was just a boy and fears he’ll never forgive her.

When Ruben marries a petite blonde gentile, Gilda takes it as the ultimate rejection. Her cold, distant son seems transformed by love – a love she’s 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…..

Bitter is a beautiful and devastating novel about the decisions that define our lives, the fragility of love and the bond between mother and son.

With short sharp chapters this book flies the reader through the life of Gilda a much flawed and lonely woman in her 50’s.

It takes us, very movingly, through her life from 1920’s Germany, to an English boarding school then marriage and the mistakes and decisions she makes over the next 30 years.

The story starts at the marriage of her only son Ruben to a girl called Alice. At the wedding Ruben calls Alice the person who taught him how to love, opening a floodgate of emotions for Gilda that prompts her into a dangerous and alarming obsession. This leads to her stalking the woman in a desperate attempt to try to be a part of her son and daughter in laws life.

The character of Gilda had me moving from dislike, to anger, to pity as her story unfolded, which it quite literally does as you read, but equally also for Ruben, even though he is one of the ones who has suffered from her actions.

I loved the character of Alice and also of Gilda’s friend Margo who sees through all of Gilda’s lies and fibs, yet never calls her up on them because of their shared past but also for her unmoving love for Gilda.

I found this an addictive read that I couldn’t put down even when at the beginning I wasn’t warming to Gilda at all, I needed to know if she would change.

A wonderfully moving debut novel! Thank you to Jennifer Kerslake @JenKerslake at Orion @orionbooks @wnbooks for my copy..

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