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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 14 February 2002
Orange Bitter, Orange Sweet, is rather an apt name for a book dealing with love and loss in and around Seville in Spain. The story revolves around a group of friends, some English, some Spanish and one German - exploring the relationships within the group and how the differences in cultural attitudes mark those relationships. The relationship between James and Borja is the central focus of the book and explores the complexity of sexuality (Gay relationship) and how they both view the relationship based on their cultural values.
The book has a rich and vivid texture and Anthony McDonald succeeds in making the reader wish they were in Seville listening to the Flamenco being played by Karston on his guitar.
The book is excellent and well worth reading and if you are like me, you will be booking your ticket to Seville!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 July 2011
Set in Spain in the mid seventies Orange Bitter, Orange Sweet follows six young people for about year. We arrive in Seville with Pippa who is about to start work teaching, and we gradually meet the small circle of colleagues/friends whom we will get to know over the course of the story. These include the half American Mark who immediately becomes attracted to Pippa; a young English girl studying the piano; and James and his Spanish boyfriend of three years Borja; along with the German guitarist Karsten; and William, another Englishman working for a sherry producer; and a few others.

We follow these young people as their various relationships develop and change, but perhaps most notable that of the attractive couple James and Borja as they face temptation, possible separation, tragedy and beyond. We also experience a something of the flavour of Spain as we travel a little and enjoy some of the attractions Spain has to offer.

Orange Bitter, Orange Sweet is an appealing and touching story that also occasional provides a little food for thought. The writer's interest in travel, an apparent love of Spain and his interest in music are more than evident.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 3 July 2009
I came to this novel after reading Anthony McDonald's two subsequent, and brilliant, novels ('Adam' and 'Blue Skies Adam'). This first novel is just as compelling and memorable. Set in Seville just ater the death of Franco, it centres on the lives of young graduate Brits, their relationships with each other and with Spain. At the heart of the book is the kind of love story McDonald excels at: the relationship between twenty-five year old James and his Spanish lover, Borja - a man whose Catholic guilt has been at war with his gay sexuality. But into James's life comes fellow Englishman, William. Like attracts like and the two start a passionate affair whose gradual flowering is described in breathtakingly compelling terms. The evocation of the guilt, excitement, tenderness and ultimate end of the affair is stunning. McDonald has a Rumer Godden-like ability to evoke a mood that is both romantic and vibrant and tense with foreboding at the same time.
I will not spoil the denouement. But this is, at its heart, a great love story: passionate, tender and 'true'.
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on 1 May 2012
Orange Bitter, Orange Sweet is an engaging novel set in picturesque Spain.
When Pippa takes up a teaching post in Seville, she meets a miscellany of interesting people--Jeanette, the musical Alexa, Karsten, James and Borja who are a couple, and Mark. Dynamic events occur--Pippa falls in love with Mark, and James and Borja's relationship gets into difficulties when each takes on a lover. This complication forms the central part of the story and the reader becomes involved in both the triumphs and the tragedy of their relationships, as well as those of the other characters.
As with his other novels, the backdrop is one of the characters in the book and we are treated to evocative descriptions of both Spain and her culture.
Anthony McDonald is a beautiful writer whose prose sparkles like sunshine on water.
A highly recommendable novel
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on 21 April 2014
This is probably the most realistic approach to relationships that I have read. A group of people are drawn together in Spain [ Andalucía ] They are a mixture of Spanish - English - American and German. The story is a woven pattern of their various experiences. The descriptive view of Spain was excellent as was their various reactions to living in a foreign area, that included the Spanish man who came from a different area of Spain. As with life there where happy and sad times. Relationships were formed and I'm glad there was no descriptive sex as I find that is mainly packing and slows down the story. This is a trilogy so I'm on part two but part one is a story on it's own and part two is several years later.
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on 21 October 2012
Hmm..not sure this should be a four but I give it that for the story about the two boys ( and I bought this with no idea of a gay tale) that really had me hooked. It is beautifully done and for that alone, I suggest you read this. Flawed people we believe in and root for.

The rest of the characters though are well, rather dull, and I turned over the pages to get on with the the one story. There are perhaps too many points of view - or perhaps there just isn't enough to drive the other people...but it did drag. Ought to be a three on that basis.

This writer can deliver but perhaps the cast here is too ambitious.
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on 1 May 2012
I have just finished reading the Kindle version of this book and what a memorable, evocative, sometimes sad and beautifully written work it was. Can one have much sympathy for James and the way he treated Borja?

Everything I would want to say has been said by the three previous reviewers and if you haven't read this book yet, don't delay. I am looking forward now to reading the sequel.
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on 25 February 2013
Totally amazing...I was hooked from the first page. I highly recommended this book. I thought Anthony McDonald wouldn't be able to beat Adam, I was as wrong. I cannot wait to read the follow-up book Along the Stars.
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on 2 January 2013
I loved this book. Anthony McDonald is a great writer and he researches his book very thoroughly. I want to go to Seville based on this book alone! You won't be disappointed at all. Read it!
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on 1 July 2014
Having read some other Anthony McDonald books, i was a little disappointed with this book, but enjoyed it for what it is, and enjoyed the various characters and the setting in Spain.
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