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An intelligent, erotically charged thriller with deep moral implications Yvonne Carmichael, a renowned geneticist, public authority, and happily married mother of two, sits in the witness box. The charge is murder. Across the courtroom, not meeting her eye, sits her alleged accomplice. He wears the beautiful pin-striped suit he wore on their first meeting in the Houses of Parliament, when he put his hand on her elbow and guided her to a deserted chapel, where she began to undress. As the barrister's voice grows low and sinuous, Yvonne realizes she's lost herself and the life she'd built so carefully to a man who never existed at all. After their first liaison, Yvonne's lover tells her very little about himself, but she comes to suspect his secrecy has an explanation connected with the British government. So thrilled and absorbed is she in her newfound sexual power that she fails to notice the real danger about to blindside her from a seemingly innocuous angle. Then, reeling from an act of violence, Yvonne discovers that her desire for justice and revenge has already been compromised. Everything hinges on one night in a dark little alley called Apple Tree Yard. Suspenseful, erotically charged, and masterfully paced, Louise Doughty's "Apple Tree Yard" is an intelligent psychological thriller about desire and its consequences by a writer of phenomenal gifts.
Only got to page 40 and I was already tired of the endless conversation that the main character was having with herself. Give this a miss.

Yvonne Carmichael is 52 years old' happily married and a well respected geneticist. But she will do something entirely new that will change her life forever. A seemingly chance encounter with a mysterious stranger will lead to an act so surprising for her with rough *** in a public place in the maze of inner London's lanes. The man is assured and likes to devour her like a wolf in hidden doorways that makes her recalibrate her personal life in all manner of ways.

For months Yvonne will secretly see her lover until two incidents will destroy there relationship and show them both for who they really are. After going to a party Yvonne will be sexually and physically assaulted. She will make a huge mistake in informing her lover of what happened the consequences will see them both end up in court' there relationship and afterwards laid bare for all to see.

Louise Doughty's structure for this murder mystery is unconventional as it is absorbing. The book is wonderful example of top draw thriller writing with the way it sets about putting a microscope over modern life. The twist with the courtroom viewpoint from that of the offender were we think we know all the facts in inspiring. My only slight gripe is it does take a while for the story to take shape and for some that may cause them to lose patience. Overall Apple Tree Yard is a unique read and may make you re look over your own life.

Apple Tree Yard wasn’t anything like what I was expecting from a cursory reading of the blurb and I think that played a part in my mixed feelings about this novel. Part psychological suspense, part courtroom drama, Apple Tree Yard explores the consequences of deceiving others, and ourselves.

Yvonne Carmichael, middle aged wife, mother and renowned geneticist, puts her comfortable life in jeopardy when she plunges into an affair with an enigmatic stranger. The relationship with the man she refers to as ‘X’ begins as a passionate and exciting diversion from respectability but quickly descends into a nightmare of violence and betrayal.

Apple Tree Yard opens with Yvonne being cross examined as she sits in the dock of the Old Bailey. I have never been a fan of prologues and in this instance I think it serves as a spoiler, rather than simply an effective hook.

The narrative is written largely in the first person but moves back and forth through time revealing Yvonne’s personal history, the development of the affair and the courtroom drama that follows, examining choice and consequence.

I didn’t much like Yvonne though I thought she made for an interesting character. Doughty thoughtfully explores the choices Yvonne makes, the ways in which she interprets and rationalises her behaviour and the behaviour of others, especially that of X. Apple Tree Yard is not only about lust and adultery but also about the way in which we see ourselves.

“Relationships are about stories, not truth. Alone, as individuals, we each have our own personal mythologies, the stories we tell in order to make sense of ourselves to ourselves…. but the minute you enter an intimate relationship with another person there is an automatic dissonance between your story about yourself, and their story about you.”p329

I have to admit the first quarter or so of this novel was a bit of a struggle for me, and I thought there was a distinct lack of tension present overall. Yet Apple Tree Yard is an interesting story, offering insightful observations about the complexities of who we believe we are and what we are capable of.

I read this novel really fast! Why? Because it grabbed me from the very beginning. The courtroom setting, the first person narrator whose world is closing in on her as a sharp barrister is about to undo her, the tense atmosphere of a trial in progress..that's how it starts and I was hooked! This is a real page turner and you will not be able to put it down. It's a disturbing novel on many levels because at the core we see normal people who live normal lives yet mistakes and lapses of judgement can have such disastrous consequences. Yvonne is likeable- real,with faults and imperfections and the reader can see that her error will be HUGE! However, its not just about Yvonne's error. Guy, George and X( Mark) are just as guilty of even worse behavioural traits. This is the intriguing part.Without wanting to spoil the plot I will just mention that one of the ironies is that Yvonne's "one error" has such disastous results for her personally whereas Guy's past error is left delicately hanging over their lives. This can be viewed as a cautionary tale- a modern fable about the follies we get ourselves into. I found the retrospective form of going back to tell us what happened in the lead up to the court case is executed very well by the author and sustained my interest brilliantly. This is my first taste of Doughty's work and I really did enjoy it. I kept thinking about it while I was reading it and even after I finished it.
Thank you to "The Reading Room" for sending me an advance copy for review and for introducing me to Louise Doughty's work. I thoroughly recommend this intelligent thriller!

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