The Spider-Orchid

Celia Fremlin
Date Published
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‘Britain’s equivalent to Patricia Highsmith, Celia Fremlin wrote psychological thrillers that changed the landscape of crime fiction for ever: her novels are domestic, subtle, penetrating – and quite horribly chilling.’ Andrew Taylor

The Spider-Orchid
(1977), Celia Fremlin’s tenth novel, is among her most unnerving. Peggy has divorced Adrian but she accepts his deep attachment to their fourteen-year-old daughter, Amelia, and hers to him. Rita is Adrian’s mistress, and he believes he is in love with her – until her husband Derek agrees to a divorce. Then Adrian is appalled when Rita moves in, destroying his privacy and endangering his relationship with Amelia.

‘Vintage Fremlin, this is one of the best crime novels of the year… With consummate, subtle skill, the author builds up suspense.’ Financial Times

‘To the very last paragraph we are kept tenterhooked.’ Times


Celia Fremlin (1914–2009) was born in Kent and spent her childhood in Hertfordshire, before studying at Oxford (whilst working as a charwoman). During World War Two, she served as an air-raid warden before becoming involved with the Mass Observation Project, collaborating on a study of women workers, War Factory. In 1942 she married Elia Goller, moved to Hampstead and had…

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