When Natasha Randall got in touch to see if I would like to review her debut book, Love Orange, I could see immediately that it would be my kind of read. However, with over 600 new books coming out on 3rd September and my TBR still standing at well over 900 physical books I knew I’d never read Love Orange by the time it was published. I was so intrigued though that I simply had to invite Natasha to stay in with me to tell me more about it.
Staying in with Natasha Randall
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Natasha and thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.
In case readers haven’t guessed yet, tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?
I have brought my debut novel Love Orange with me. It is a very orange book. And there is a trick on the cover. Did you ever see Margaret Atwood’s latest Handmaid’s Tale cover – where the negative space actually depicted something too? Something similar happens with my cover. It’s a strong design, but there’s a reason the title is placed where it is… You have to read it to find out, though.
Oo. Now that is intriguing. I’m so glad I have a copy of Love Orange on my TBR waiting to be read so that I can find out. I have all kinds of theories as I can see a letter, a warning sign, an inverted house or home, a possible love triangle – or two – so it’ll be fascinating to see if any of my initial impressions are right.
With all that in mind, what can we expect from an evening in with Love Orange?
You can expect to laugh, and then to feel like something a little weird is happening. Online reviewers say it reminds them of Ray Bradbury – but if he was writing about now, instead of some future moment. I have to warn you, the first 100 pages are spread wide. The story is told by four characters so there’s a bit of getting to know each of them. They are all in the same family, and they all see the same things but very differently.
I think that’s true of any family! I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy reading Love Orange.
What else have you brought along and why?
I have brought a basket of oranges for you because they are a gesture of health. My book isn’t about health— it’s about a lonely search for identity, so this is a kind of effort at contributing an antidote. I will also say that Aperol is really delicious with light beer instead of sparkling wine.
I have brought that too for you to try. It’s also orange, so that’s cute – right?
I’ll have to try that as I don’t normally like Aperol!
You’ll hear that Hunger by Florence and the Machine is playing on the radio—I asked for that. That’s a song that tells you that we’re all hungry. And sometimes, the hunger is an ache for something other than food.
I think we all recognise that feeling Natasha!
Jenny Tinkley is here, she’s waiting outside – she’s one of my characters. She’s tired today. We could ask her to come inside, maybe.
We could. You go and call her in and I’ll tell readers all they need about Love Orange. Thanks so much for staying in with me Natasha to chat all about it. I can’t wait to read Love Orange!
An extraordinary debut novel by Natasha Randall, exposing the seam of secrets within an American family, from beneath the plastic surfaces of their new ‘smart’ home. Love Orange charts the gentle absurdities of their lives, and the devastating consequences of casual choices.
While Hank struggles with his lack of professional success, his wife Jenny, feeling stuck and beset by an urge to do good, becomes ensnared in a dangerous correspondence with a prison inmate called John. Letter by letter, John pinches Jenny awake from the “marshmallow numbness” of her life. The children, meanwhile, unwittingly disturb the foundations of their home life with forays into the dark net and strange geological experiments.
Jenny’s bid for freedom takes a sour turn when she becomes the go-between for John and his wife, and develops an unnatural obsession for the orange glue that seals his letters…
Love Orange throws open the blinds of American life, showing a family facing up to the modern age, from the ascendancy of technology, the predicaments of masculinity, the pathologising of children, the epidemic of opioid addiction and the tyranny of the WhatsApp Gods. The first novel by the acclaimed translator is a comic cocktail, an exuberant skewering of contemporary anxieties and prejudices.
Love Orange is published by Quercus imprint Riverrun on 3rd September 2020 and is available for pre-order here.
About Natasha Randall
Natasha Randall is a literary translator whose translations include Notes from an Underground by Dostoyevsky, A Hero of Our Time by Lermontov, and We by Zamyatin. She has edited a volume of Gogol for Riverrun, Quercus. Her articles and reviews have appeared in the TLS, LA Review and the NYT. She lives in London with her husband and young children.