Yvonne Carmichael has worked hard to achieve the life that she always wanted: a high-flying career in genetics, a beautiful home, a good relationship with her husband and their two grown-up children. Then one day she meets a stranger at the Houses of Parliament and begins a passionate affair with him - a decision that will put everything she values at risk.
At first she believes she can keep the relationship separate from the rest of her life, but she can't control what happens next. All of her careful plans spiral into greater deceit and, eventually, a life-changing act of violence.
Apple Tree Yard is a psychological thriller about a woman's adultery and an insightful examination of the values we live by and the choices we make, from an acclaimed writer at the height of her powers.
“Doughty is a brilliant storyteller who knows how to build the suspense to breaking point.” (The Times)
“A compelling cautionary tale of what happens when fantasy begins to occlude real life. ‘The trouble with stories is, they are addictive,’ Doughty states. In this case, she may never have written a truer word.” (Guardian)
“Apple Tree Yard is a chilling novel, in part because of the unsparing light it shines on our ability to deceive ourselves. Doughty has a particular gift for unsettling stories, for making us ask difficult questions of ourselves, our own relationships and choices, and this is her strongest book yet. It's not a comfortable read, but it is entirely compelling.” (Stephanie Merritt, Observer)
“Taut and psychologically persuasive ... A disquieting, perceptive and gripping read.” (Daily Mail)
“Gripping.” (Sunday Times)
“Welcome to Louise Doughty's world in which individuals are complex and fallible ... Doughty drops sharp, shiver-inducing insights, like winter raindrops, on every page ... The story is compelling but Doughty makes sure that we're enthralled by teasing us with tantalising glimpses of future events ... Her writing is piercing and potent, overpowering emotions captured in sharp, pithy phrases ... The court scene is one of the best I've ever read, the suspense and tension building to a taut peak ... Riveting.” (Independent on Sunday)
“If a prologue to a novel is to whet the reader's appetite, Louise Doughty provides irresistible temptation with the opening of Apple Tree Yard... A compelling read ... Recollection, interspersed with the growing tension as the trial plays out in the Old Bailey, provides a perfectly dovetailed structure. But within the thriller framework lies a wealth of acutely observed detail, a dissection of social attitudes and an examination of lust, trust, predatory sex, risky behaviour and responsibility ... there is considerably more to Apple Tree Yard than thrilling narrative alone.” (Herald)
“Nobody who reads Apple Tree Yard is likely to complain about feeling short-changed ... Here the sharp domestic details are powerfully combined with (among other things) a dark crime thriller, a gripping courtroom drama and an unforced meditation on the pleasures and dangers of self-deception ... Superbly teasing.” (Readers Digest)
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I was intrigued by Part 1 of the TV version so decided to hear it and was delighted to find the narrator was Juliet Stevenson.
(Minor spoiler alert)
I do not know why the author gave away the courtroom reveal earlier in the story. There were enough other hints such as the chimp experiment discussion Yvonne had with her solicitor. I would have omitted that earlier piece of the barrister's cross examination as it comes up again virtually verbatim later. Always difficult to get stories told in flashback right and balance out suspense versus too much information.
Incredible characterizations by Ms.Stevenson. Sometimes I can imagine voices when reading in print but not all the time. She adds so much by her voice acting.
I was moved by the family and friends' reactions. I was also moved by the human fallibility component in general and how life can "turn on a dime".