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17 May 2014

Apple Tree Yard
Louise Doughty
Faber & Faber
Publication Date
06 June 2013
Psychological Thriller


Yvonne Carmichel 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. Keeping the two halves of her life separate seems easy at first. But she can't control what happens next. 

The book contains moderate descriptions of sexual activity. 

I loved, loved, loved this book. 
The story is narrated by Yvonne and starts with her standing trial at the Old Bailey (Court in London, usually dealing with serious murder cases). But neither her crime nor any of the circumstances are initially revealed. 

Yvonne than tells us her story. She is a highly respected scientist in her 50's who is even advising the government and attends parliament, and an examiner/adviser in University in her field of genetics. Her husband is also a scientist, and I got the impression of those two, whilst not necessarily deeply unhappy in their relationship, seem to be living alongside each other rather than being a couple who is still happy. Yvonne than mets a mysterious man whilst attending an advisory session at parliament and is straight away completely drawn to him, and follows him - yes, within a few minutes of meeting him, into an empty room to have sex. Strange, weird, something missing in her life? 

The two start an affair, and he remains mysterious and does not reveal to much about himself, in fact Yvonne does not even get to know his name. But he does make it clear from the beginning that he is married as well. And she doesn't question…He likes the danger of outdoor sex and the fear of being discovered adds to it for him and Yvonne seems to be swept along by this affair. 

And now it is hard to continue telling you about this book without giving away the plot. A horrendous experience for Yvonne which will change all their lives forever and will end up with her being in court accused of murder.

The plot in this book is fantastic and I read it (and that is all 368 pages of it) within 48 hrs - and I'm not a fast reader. I took to Yvonne - maybe because her age / occupational status is not too far removed from mine? There is more in her past which explains why she acts the way she does which is revealed slowly throughout the story. I also like the way we know almost nothing about her lover at the beginning (a bit like Yvonne really), and his story is also unravelled. Another pleasantly surprising plus for me was that I recognised many of the places this novel plays out in London Westminster (but I have yet to find THE Apple Tree Yard)

I can honestly say that it is one of the best books in this genre I've read in a long time. 

Anything I didn't like?
Well, it's not so much the ending (that is fine), but I think the book 'goes on' a bit for me after the story has finished - in a kind of 'what we all do now' fashion. But do not let this put you off, it's maybe the final 20 pages or so in my opinion. 

I purchased this book.