Come and chat to LOUISE DOUGHTY about Apple Tree Yard (and all her previous books), TONIGHT, 9-10pm

(155 Posts)

'It is about the fine line women walk’. That’s how Hilary Mantel described our January Book of the Month by Mumsnet Academy speaker Louise Doughty. APPLE TREE YARD opens with a trial, where Yvonne (52, a well-known geneticist, attractive, happily married) is giving evidence. Yvonne has had a sexual encounter with a man about whom she knows nothing. Her one moment of madness pulls her into an increasingly alarming web of violence and brutality. A brilliantly addictive combination of courtroom drama, crime thriller and literary psychological novel, APPLE TREE YARD is perfectly structured. It is also a fascinating study of how society views an attractive woman in her 50s, and the injustices and manipulations of our justice system. Lots of hidden twists, so be careful not to give the game away…

You can find more, including Louise’s interview with Mariella Frostrup on Radio 4’s Open Book and a profile of her in the Telegraph, on Louise's highly informative website or read an interview with Louise and her editor on Faber's website.

Faber have 50 copies to give to Mumsnetters – to claim yours please fill in your details on the book of the month page. We’ll post on the thread when all the copies have gone. If you’re not lucky enough to bag one of the free books, you can always get your paperback or Kindle version here.

We are thrilled that Louise (author of seven novels, including Whatever You Love, and her non-fiction book A Novel in a Year, based on her hugely popular newspaper column) will be joining us and answering questions about APPLE TREE YARD, her writing career and her previous novels on Tuesday 28 January, 9-10pm.

So please feel free to discuss the book here throughout the month, pop up any advance questions and we will see you all here, Tue 28 January.

ad2014 Tue 11-Feb-14 02:08:32

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Alidoll Mon 03-Feb-14 22:42:54

Missed the webchat unfortunately but really enjoyed the book (being trying to read it while doing an online course about forensics, working part-time and being a Mum to an active 4 year old).

Thanks!

vacklentine Mon 03-Feb-14 03:18:24

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llewejk Fri 31-Jan-14 10:52:13

I loved this book. I took it away with me on a spa weekend, and couldn't put it down. I was gripped from the beginning. I loved all the twists which made the book up predictable. I couldn't guess how it .would end/

DuchessofMalfi Tue 28-Jan-14 22:17:15

Thank you Louise for a really enjoyable webchat, and thank you for answering my question smile . Looking forward to your next novel.

Thanks, really interesting to read all the comments and I'm so pleased to have discovered your book through this book club, it'e been passed on through my NCT group - more late nights for them I think!

Thanks Louise smile

PlatoonBuffoon Tue 28-Jan-14 22:04:56

Thanks Louise! Really interesting web chat, can't wait for your next novel.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 22:03:15

TillyBookClub

Very sadly our time is up? thank you to everyone for a fascinating, informed discussion night. I think it?s one of the busiest we?ve ever had and wonderful to kick off the year with such a lively evening.

Louise, you have been an absolute star once again, not only for answering all of the questions but doing so with such generosity and thoughtfulness.

Good luck with the next project and do come back for a third time and tell us about it! And looking forward to to seeing Apple Tree Yard on screen sometime soon (you?ve got me wondering who the actress might be?)

Many thanks once more, to everyone (and many apologies if there is a question we missed)

You're welcome Tilly, and everyone - it was great to read so many thoughtful questions and comments. I would love to come back with the next book. Apologies from me too to anyone who didn't get a personal response - some responses are still being posted but it won't be possible to get through everyone. It's been very interesting though.

BOFtastic Tue 28-Jan-14 22:03:05

Olivia Coleman? Ooh, it's a brilliant game to speculate! Can't wait. Congratulations- I hope it lives up to your novel, fingers crossed! Thanks again x

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 22:01:36

Gargamella

Think the gong's about to go! Just wanted to say a huge thanks for the book and chat.

It is indeed, thanks for taking part - it's been fun.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 22:01:08

TillyBookClub

Thank you for answering - I was cheering too! I wonder if now that actresses like Julia Roberts are hitting 50 we might just see a balancing out of those mad Hollywood discrepancies (but I'm not holding my breath)...

I doubt we will see it in Hollywood - chiefly because none of the actresses there who are in their 50s look like they actually are... I can think of half a dozen brilliant UK actresses who would be terrific though. I would be very annoyed if anyone cast a 30-something, although I think the plot would make that impossible - her kids have to be grown up.

Gargamella Tue 28-Jan-14 22:00:30

Think the gong's about to go! Just wanted to say a huge thanks for the book and chat.

Very sadly our time is up… thank you to everyone for a fascinating, informed discussion night. I think it’s one of the busiest we’ve ever had and wonderful to kick off the year with such a lively evening.

Louise, you have been an absolute star once again, not only for answering all of the questions but doing so with such generosity and thoughtfulness.

Good luck with the next project and do come back for a third time and tell us about it! And looking forward to to seeing Apple Tree Yard on screen sometime soon (you’ve got me wondering who the actress might be…)

Many thanks once more, to everyone (and many apologies if there is a question we missed)

BOFtastic Tue 28-Jan-14 21:59:40

Oh, go on then, I've thought of something. I read Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch recently, and almost wept to finish it. Who are your absolutely must-read authors?

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:59:00

bookmole

Do you actually live in the metline area of London? I think this is the first time I have ever heard South Harrow mentioned in a book.

I also want to say how much I enjoyed the book, which is so far outside of my Comfort Zone reading (mainly urban fantasy, or science fiction). I found the inexorable progression of deceit so well done.

I don’t live on the Metropolitan Line but I went up and down it a few times and travelled to the suburb where I thought Yvonne might live, and to South Harrow where George’s flat is. As I said above, I love wandering around the territory of a book, gives me all sorts of ideas.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:58:53

BOFtastic

I'm too late to the party to ask an intelligent question, but I'd just like to thank you, Louise, for writing such a compelling book- even if I got nothing else done the day I read it cover to cover grin.

That's terrific to hear, thank you. The best review I could hope for.

Thank you for answering - I was cheering too! I wonder if now that actresses like Julia Roberts are hitting 50 we might just see a balancing out of those mad Hollywood discrepancies (but I'm not holding my breath)...

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:58:17

DuchessofMalfi

I finished reading it this morning. Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed it. I loved the twists and turns, and the raising of moral dilemmas. I have to say there's no way I'd go off to a crypt with a man I'd only just met, however good-looking he was grin

My favourite part was the Old Bailey trial - so atmospheric that I felt I was there watching from the gallery smile

My question is, given that it came out in the trial that Mark was a sexual predator who often searched the security tapes for attractive women to follow, do you think he did feel differently about Yvonne? Did he love her? Did he, in fact, fall under her influence, given what she whispered to him at their meeting in Vauxhall? How innocent was she, then, in the circumstances? He never revealed that fact at the trial, did he? And that would have been damning for her.

Now I'm wondering what to read next that could possibly beat that for drama. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

I’m hoping there’s an element of ambiguity around that issue – there’s meant to be. What I was aiming for was for the reader to feel that, yes, Mark is a sexual predator and his behaviour is in many ways reprehensible. But despite all that, when Yvonne is in desperate trouble and threatened, he stands by her. Many men in his position would have run a mile in order to protect themselves – but her predicament appeals to his innate chivalry, and also to his sense of himself as someone heroic (a flawed sense of himself, as it turns out.) All the men I know who have read the book hate Mark and think of him as entirely bad – but quite a few of the women I know have said, he’s more ambiguous than that, which is very pleasing to me. Perhaps that says something slightly worrying about the kind of men they might find attractive – but I did want the reader to feel that although Mark does some bad things, and one terrible thing, he isn’t evil.

BOFtastic Tue 28-Jan-14 21:58:08

I'm too late to the party to ask an intelligent question, but I'd just like to thank you, Louise, for writing such a compelling book- even if I got nothing else done the day I read it cover to cover grin.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:54:40

Paloolah

Like others, I found this a really compelling read. I was struck by the realism of the scenes around Westminster (eg in Portcullis House and Parliament) and the surrounding streets. I thought Apple Tree Yard was probably made up to give a contrast between an idyllic sounding place and less that idyllic action taking place there, and was surprised to see it there in my A to Z (will check it out next time I'm around Picadilly!).

My question for Yvonne is:

Please could you tell us a bit about how you researched the settings for this book, and how important is it for you to use actual vs fictional places?

Many thanks!

Yes, Apple Tree Yard is real, and in fact I got the idea for the title when I went past it, and something about that street name really struck a chord with me. I just liked the ring of it (although it’s actually being knocked down at the moment). I don’t always use real places but when you are setting a novel in the Houses of Parliament and Old Bailey it seems silly not to make the most of all the real atmosphere round there. I really love wandering around the geographical location of a novel and thinking about it – it’s very fertile ‘growing’ ground for me.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:53:46

IWasThere4Aug12

Was the chimpanzee experiment real? That has unnerved me ever since I read it

I’m afraid to say it was! Lots of people ask that question. It’s something I read in a newspaper many years ago – unfortunately, I can’t remember the source. It’s quite horrifying, isn’t it? Although scientist friends tell me it is easily explicable by the survival of the species – the mother chimp knows the baby will die without her anyway. I’m not quite sure I buy that explanation. It’s haunted me ever since I read it.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:53:10

TheOnlyOliviaMumsnet

grin at alleyways!!
Couple of other questions: -
What are you working on at the moment?
Which of your other novels should I download first?
(hopeful of reading time emoticon)

I'm working on a new novel - similar themes of moral choices, love and relationships, although this time from a male point of view - very different setting, mostly in Asia but a bit in California and Holland too, so a somewhat global setting with a mysterious man at its heart. For people who liked Apple Tree Yard probably the other book of mine they would enjoy best is Whatever You Love, which immediately preceded it and was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award. I'm also very fond of my fourth and fifth, which are historical books: Fires in the Dark and Stone Cradle. Not all my backlist is available for download at the moment but we are working on it!

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