15 Mar 2016

APPLE TREE YARD.


APPLE TREE YARD by LOUISE DOUGHTY.

BACK COVER BLURB: Yvonne Carmichael has a high-flying career, a beautiful home and a good marriage.

But when she meets a stranger she is drawn into a passionate affair.

But when she meets a stranger she is drawn into a passionate affair.

But she can't control what happens next.

FIRST SENTENCE {Prologue}: The moment builds; it swells and builds - the moment when I realise we have lost.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 327}: Why did you feel the need to seduce me with a lie? But you didn't lie, of course, not outright. You simply kept yurself mysterious enough to encourage me to make up my own story.

SOURCE: A Readers Group read.

MY THOUGHTS: Often asked why I'm so stubborn, why when once started I have to finish a book.

The answer?

Books like Apple Tree Yard.

Computerised letters written but never sent aside, this is a novel written as a stream of consciousness piece, an internal monologue directed towards the stranger, soon to become lover, of respected scientist Dr Yvonne Carmichael. It's not a style that to begin with I particularly enjoyed - and I'm still not sure I do BUT, by the time I had reached parts two and three, the style became irrelevant as I got swept away by events.

Bored by the 'sex scenes' that quite frankly made for good contenders in the Bad Sex in Literature Awards and seemed to form much of part one. I struggled to understand what the fascination for sex in an underground crypt in the Palace of Westminster/in a disabled toilet with a man you had only just met might hold for a middle-aged, married with adult children, career-minded woman. (My apologies if I have given too much away here.) 

However, as the book progresses and, thankfully, Yvonne's life, her family relationships, unfolds, we got a better understanding of her 'motives', and then, of course, there are the court scenes (something I have always been fascinated by) both of which, for me anyway, went some way to seeing the book go from a one 'I did not like it' star rating to a four 'I really liked it' star rating.

Hardly an easy read, indeed at times it makes for deeply uncomfortable reading, but ultimately hugely compelling. Louise Doughty does an amazing job of telling a tale that centres around the ability we have to deceive ourselves. Not that I'm in the habit of recommending books but I'd suggest this as a great read for reading groups - the scope for discussion huge.



12 comments:

Suko said...

Excellent review, Tracy! This sounds like a difficult but worthwhile read. I enjoyed reading your take on this book.

Kelly said...

I agree with Suko - it's an excellent review. I'm still not sure you've won me over, though. And from what you've shared, I'm not sure my reading group would like it. Still...I'm intrigued and I'll keep it in mind.

Like you, I rarely give up on a book and it's wonderful when it pays off in the end as this one did for you.

Tracy Terry said...

One of the most talked about books our group has ever read. Apart from two we all enjoyed it though must of us did struggle with the sex thing and in particular why a successful woman of a 'certain age' should wish to participate.

Melliane said...

Despite the sex parts that aren't that interesting, it sounds like a good story too.

Brian Joseph said...

I tend to like books that consist of things like letters and emails. Maybe it is because it allows one to digest ideas in small bits.

I also like the theme of self deception. With that, I find that badly written scenes, of any type, are unbearable.

Sherry Ellis said...

Sounds like an interesting read. I'm not sure though, that it would be at the top of my to-read lists.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Interesting but I don't think it would be for me. I'm also baffled by that sex scene. Ew... a toilet? No, just no.

ClaudineGueh@CarryUsOffBooks said...

It's rare going from a one-star to a four-star rating so this book must be something indeed! I wasn't captivated by the storyline or the actual lines quoted here so will probably skip this. Interesting change of mind, though!

Literary Feline said...

I am glad you ended up liking this one in the end, Tracy. I admit the blurb about the book doesn't especially draw me in. I'm really picky about books I read that deal with infidelity. I'm not sure I could get past the things you mention as well as you did.

Natasha Hill said...

Great review Tracy, this sounds like an interesting one - I always love the lines you pick out that are memorable. - Tasha

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

I actually have this book as a paperback, sat right in front of me on my bookshelf. I have to admit that it has been there for at least 2 years and was purchased when I was killing time waiting for a chiropodists appointment. I was in the nearby 'Air Ambulance' charity shop and I managed to pick the book up as part of a bundle of 6 books for £1.

It does say 'sexual intrigue' in the synopsis, but from your comments, it sounds as though there is more than just the odd reference to sex in this one. Not that it really bothers me, however it doesn't sound as though there is a very in depth storyline going on to offset it!

Thanks as always for your candid and honest review and opinion and I would like to make it clear, that not all people called Yvonne, have the same such low moral standards :)

Anonymous :)

Gina R said...

Point well made for finishing what one starts... though I too am perplexed by what draw that venue with that activity would have. 😮 Enjoyed the review!