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.

sherazade Wed 04-Dec-13 10:11:24

where do I fill my details to claim a free copy?

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 05-Dec-13 13:41:24

sherazade

where do I fill my details to claim a free copy?

Hi there

You can apply on the book of the month page

louloutheshamed Thu 05-Dec-13 14:22:41

*MNHQ WARNS: SPOILER ALERT*

Omg!! This was one the best books I have read all year (about 30 so far- not bad for someone with toddler and newborn!)

I don't have a question specifically but just wanted to say to Louise how much I loved the book.

What I thought was so so clever was the way that it turns things on its head as a way of examining how women are treated in the courtroom. The fact that George behaved so monstrously would have worked in Yvonne's favour in a rape trial but worked against her in a murder trial as a motive, and Yvonne points out that as the defendant in a murder trial she is treated the same as a victim in a rape trial- such a clever way of examining attitudes to rape and the way women are treated and the terrible victim blaming that is still so prevalent.

Also I was fascinated by the Kevin character and what he said about rape defence lawyers- all the dirt digging etc. was it a harrowing book to research? It certainly
Made me very angry.

Also I am interested in the son character- he seemed to have depression/mh problems? What was the motivation behind his inclusion as a character?

AliceMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 09-Dec-13 12:37:11

The giveaway is now closed. We will send an email to those who have been selected to receive a free copy. If you haven't got a copy of the book yet, there is still plenty of time to get one and join in the discussion.

We will see you Tuesday 28th January 9-10pm for our webchat with Louise Doughty.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 09-Dec-13 16:59:38

Thanks so much for your question loulou and so pleased that you love the book as much as we do. Hope it's okay but we've added a spoiler alert.

We realise it can be tricky to ask a question without giving away the plot but please can everyone try and avoid spoilers as much as possible until the evening webchat with Louise.

If you're unable to join us on the night and have a question that can't avoid it, please post Spoiler alert at the top of the post so those who haven't finished the book can skip your question. THANKS loads [hope that didn't sound too bossy blush]

AliceMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 23-Dec-13 12:44:16

Apologies to anyone who is still waiting for their free copy of Apple Tree Yard. This was due to a slight delay at the publishers. Hopefully the book should be with you as soon as possible. If you weren't selected to receive a copy, feel free to buy the book and join in our discussion. Louise would love to hear your questions!

MNHQ x

aristocat Mon 23-Dec-13 15:34:53

Thanks AliceMumsnet, I did wonder if the book was delayed due to Christmas.
Looking forward to receiving it smile

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 03-Jan-14 11:41:41

The books were sent out just before Christmas - have they started arriving yet?

shaktar Fri 03-Jan-14 20:42:31

Hi Rachel - Mine hasn't appeared yet unfortunately..

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 03-Jan-14 22:46:14

I will chase on Monday to see where they are and come back.

Alidoll Mon 06-Jan-14 18:19:54

Mine has arrived so thanks - hoping to start reading soon but just started an online Forensic Science course with FutureLearn (they have FREE courses!!) so getting into the Crime Mode!!

StillNoFuckingEyeDeer Mon 06-Jan-14 18:43:19

I don't have any questions really, just wondered the same as loulou really - how hard was it (emotionally) to research?

I was captivated by this book. I found it difficult to put down. It's very intelligent & thought provoking, but quite unsettling too.
I don't want to say anything about the plot, but it's twisty and the story keeps going. I can't really say what I felt about the ending without giving things away which might ruin it for someone else, but if there was a weak point,for me it was the ending. Having said that, I would definitely recommend the book and have already passed it on to its next reader.

foolonthehill Mon 06-Jan-14 21:50:43

potential spoiler

All the characters are flawed in one way or another, was there a point where you (the author) fell in or out of love with each of them?

The husband is drawn in quite a dispassionate way...was he always going to surprise his wife by his knowledge of her/what was going on or did that come at later stage of story construction?

the legal detail is very accurate, what did you feel as you discovered how victims are treated in rape cases...or was it something you already knew about?

If you were to write a sequel or the same story from a different point of view which character would you choose and why?...to the author and readers.

I could see how the son's illness lay in the background of the way the characters dealt with one another, if you could give any character one "healing conversation" with another character which would you choose?

KatherineRTaylor Wed 08-Jan-14 11:06:20

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Southeastdweller Wed 08-Jan-14 12:55:56

Marking my place as I'm starting the book tomorrow.

Vicketaylor1989 Wed 08-Jan-14 17:49:42

Just picked up my book from the library and it's like nothing I have ever read before so looking forward to reading and finding out what happens :-)

DuchessofMalfi Wed 08-Jan-14 19:03:50

Just bought a copy this morning. Looking forward to reading it, just as soon as I've finished my current book. Looks really good smile

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 10-Jan-14 10:37:29

Can I just check that you have got your free copies now? I know some people have received their copies and just checking they've all come through now. It's great to see so many reading Apple Tree Yard and looking forward to hearing your views. Do put the date in your diaries for the bookclub webchat with Louise Doughty on Tuesday 28th Jan between 9 and 10pm.

webster147 Fri 10-Jan-14 12:15:00

I really enjoyed the book, so much so that I found it hard to put it down and ended up reading it in just a few days. I loved how detailed Louise was about the areas in London that she was describing, allowing the reader to almost share the moment with the character Yvonne.
There were lots of little unexpected twists to the story that kept me wanting to turn the pages.
I can't wait to read some of Louise's other books.

My question for Louise is, Did you learn new things about the areas in London when you were doing your research for the book ?

SiouxieSioux Fri 10-Jan-14 19:59:28

I finished it in a couple of days and found it absorbing. To me the theme of Judgement,Guilt,Truth and Innocence run through it. How we judge others, how the stories we tell about ourselves and others defines our perception ,arrogance and how the lies we spin become conveniently embedded as truths. Justice in the case of the characters in this book was it served and not just in the court room and is revenge a greater motivator than love?

yUMMYmUMMYb Sat 11-Jan-14 13:33:55

Just bought this book, better get reading

I was the lucky recipient of this book in the giveaway. I devoured the book in a few days ..I found it totally absorbing , shocking and thought provoking.
Yvonne's behaviour made me very angry ..she seemed quite cold I thought . I agree with Siouxie that how we judge others was atheme that ran through the book. i hope I am never faced with anything like this in my own life .. The appalling way in which rape victims are treated really affected me.

gillapeno Sun 12-Jan-14 21:02:38

Hi there smile this was my first "book of the month" and I have to say what a start! Brilliant book! I bought it for the Kindle, and Im trying to figure out how to lend it out to other Kindle users so my friend can have a read too smile fantastic plot that keeps you interested from the start to the very end

sparkysparkysparky Mon 13-Jan-14 13:38:21

I enjoyed the challenge of judging ( and trying not to judge ) Tonne the booMy only criticism was the description of George's father as having early stage MS. I have this condition myself and it jarred to read what

sparkysparkysparky Mon 13-Jan-14 13:44:23

Apologies for half baked message before this one. Fingers slipped ! Did Louise base her description of of George's father on someone she knows?A man of his likely age would, if he. Also, it had MS , not be in "early stage "

sparkysparkysparky Mon 13-Jan-14 14:27:42

Apologies for failing to post a full message (above).
I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I loved the challenge of judging (and not judging) Yvonne as the plot unfolded.
My only criticism is of the description of George's father as being in early stage MS. It jarred with me.
If you have only recently been diagnosed with MS ( I got my diagnosis 3 years ago), it would be too soon to characterise it as a progressively degenerative condition (as was the implication here by the use of the term "early stage"). It is also unlikely that a man of George's father's likely age would have only had a recent diagnosis. I'm in my 40s and am a bit of late starter for MS. I'm guessing this character would be in his late 50'/early 60's.
My questions for Louise is - Did you base George's father on someone you know with MS?
I concede that the description of George's father may match somebody - MS is too capricious a condition to be the same for everyone. However, it would be unusual to be such a late starter and for the diagnosis of progressive MS (there are other versions) to be so clear.
This minor character also had me asking myself whether I would exaggerate the extent of my condition - demand a wheelchair - if I thought it would increase the likelihood that my allegedly evil son's killers would be punished? It added an extra dimension to my "what would I do in this scenario?" sessions that I had when considering Yvonne and other major characters.

sherazade Mon 13-Jan-14 19:45:56

SPOILER ALERT

Thank you mumsnet for my free copy of this riveting book! I have to say I have not carefully and slowly savoured every word of a novel for a very long time. I thought it very clever how our own hypocrisy and prejudices are unveiled throughout the course of the story. We are quick to judge Yvonne for her actions and are lead to pity her husband for her betrayal : 'a kindly man... large and balding', only to shortly discover that he is the one who has been breaking her heart all along with absolutely no remorse. The stark hypocrisy is blinding: his long standing affair conveniently carries on without drama, the results of hers are unspeakably disastrous. We are heartbroken along with her, when she reveals in her moment of utter despair, that she has never begged him for anything, and even her wish for him to leave his young lover as always been nothing more than a request, so subtly and humbly worded, with his interests at heart: 'Could he please, for both our sakes, finish it with his young lover, for once and for all'. Here is a woman who is so completely selfless and dedicated to her husband and family. Her only urgent plea in the entire lifetime of their marriage is that he stays away from her trial so that he and the children are protected from the awful revelation and possible humiliation. I thought that her characterisation throughout this novel was excellent.

I do have one quesiton regarding her however:

Was Yvonne mentally unhinged? The clues that point towards this possibility are her family history of mental illness, the fact that she reflects on her mothers own suicide and her sons's suicide without ever looking 'inwardly' at herself. She is so consumed by the motivations of others (constantly trying to deconstruct her lovers actions and intentions, constantly trying to figure out what makes her son tick and why he does what he does) but she very rarely unpacks her own actions and choices, leaving the reader to question whether she is capable of doing so. Her lover commites an obvious crime when he returns to the car with his clothes changed and she brushes over what could have happened, momentarily dipping into why, in hindsight, she never asked him what had happened and then quickly escaping the issue.

The other factor is that she was clearly enraged by the rape and expressed a desire to have the rapist killed and suggests to her lover that he murder him. (Although I have never been in this position so...)

Thirdly, she refers to the man who ultimately betrays her as 'my love' throughout the novel having full knowledge of the potential consequences for his betrayal. The thread that runs throughout the novel is the secrecy of their relationship, at several points in the story he reminds her that nobody must ever know that they were lovers. She sticks to her end of the bargain with the utmost fervour and it is him who betrays her in the end. Why then does she still refer to him with an irrational, almost manic tenderness throughout her retelling of her harrowing trial in court?

Thanks mumsnet once again for the opportunity to read this wonderful book and to Louise Doughty for having written it. A great choice for book of the month!

Looking forward to the chat, but I just have to day how much I loved reading this book. I couldn't put it downm hence some very late nights! Can thoroughly recommend

brendarenda Tue 14-Jan-14 12:26:01

Spoiler alert
Like others, I really loved this book and thought it was a great choice.
I struggled a bit at first to understand Yvonne's reasons for falling for such an unappealing man as Mark. Their sexual encounters were all on his terms, and she was largely powerless throughout the relationship. But there is obviously something strangely appealing about not being in the driving seat, perhaps especially for a woman like Yvonne who was used to being in control.
Later on we discover that Yvonne feels she was open to Mark's advances because she had fallen out of love with her own 'competence'. She was very able in lots of ways and in control and had coped and juggled for years and then perhaps just wanted to let go.
Was this something that Louise was interested in exploring? The idea that when we fall for someone, it might say more about our own situation than the person we happen to fall in love with?
I was also intrigued by the male characters and the way they evolved throughout the book. The husband starts off safe and predictable, then we find out he’s an adulterer, but he morphs into a bit of a hero by the end. The lover is mysterious and sexually exciting before being revealed to be a sad Walter Mitty character who ultimately betrays Yvonne to save his own sorry skin. The affable colleague turns into a violent rapist. None of these characters occupies a set role. Instead they all switch between different positions, leaving the reader with an uncomfortable feeling of shifting sands. Maybe this is the point? Like someone else said, it’s playing around with the idea of judgement and our desire to judge others in black or white (guilty/not guilty) versus the reality of lots of grey.

ireadnovels Tue 14-Jan-14 13:56:54

I loved how the whole story of Apple TreeYard was full of drama. It's wickedly entertaning. I am looking forward to Lousie Douglas next novel.

bunnybing Tue 14-Jan-14 14:19:39

Really enjoyed Apple Tree Yard, especially the court scenes and the interplay between the legal professionals, defendants and witnesses.

One thing I wondered - did you always intend to make Yvonne's husband Guy an adulterer, or did you decide that later on, based on a decision to make Yvonne seem more sympathetic to your readers than if she'd taken a lover without this as a precedent?

Headinbook Wed 15-Jan-14 11:22:30

I read this through in one sitting, so quickly, in fact, that I had to go back to re-read the final 30 pages to take in the detail rather than racing to find out what happened!

Like everyone else, the book left me unsettled. At the outset, the characters and their lives seem fixed and set: they are a collection of "types". By the end, that apparent certainty and stability is all gone for the reader, just as we've learned while reading that they were only illusions at best for the characters themselves.

Have lent it on to a friend who's similarly hooked; looking forward to the chat later this month.

sherazade Wed 15-Jan-14 12:17:48

a question on behalf of a colleague

Did Mark genuinely love Yvonne and was she the one who was using him to her advantage? And did Yvonne see their relationship as purely sexual and did she remain emotionally detached from ?

sherazade Wed 15-Jan-14 12:18:04

from him sorry!

Southeastdweller Wed 15-Jan-14 15:12:28

Just finished this, the most enjoyable book I've read for years.

Looking forward to the web chat in two weeks and will think of a question beforehand.

I see from Louise's website that the TV rights have already been sold - I'm thinking Alex Kingston or Lesley Sharp would make a good Yvonne.

WowOoo Thu 16-Jan-14 13:54:45

I really enjoyed this. Thank you!

I love how the lead character is a succesful woman in science.
I thought the court scenes were fantastic. All the digging for dirt.
I also liked how the characters were human and flawed. None of them were perfect and there was not one character that was obviously the hero/heroine.
I was a bit shocked how a woman who has so much going for her - a fantastic career in science being one - could risk everything for a man. I've never had an extra marital affair. I suppose I can understand that someone can be so infatuated they are willing to risk everything.

Going to read Louise Doughty's other books. Hope they are as gripping.

shaktar Fri 17-Jan-14 14:39:50

I was completely gripped by this book and found myself staying up far too late last night to finish it: the pace and the way the author controls it's leaks and troughs are incredible.

I rally enjoyed the book and found it refreshing that the main voice, despite not being someone who I felt any great warmth towards, was that of an 'older' woman who was still an attractive, sexual, intelligent, erudite creature. Without giving anything away, I found the ending a little disappointing after the tremendous build up.

SunshinePanda Fri 17-Jan-14 20:08:00

Finished yesterday. Completely gripped by this book. Agree with you, Shaktar, that it is the way that the author drop feeds information that pulls you in. I thought the ending was right although don't want to say too much yet. Just wish I could get the mother chimp image out of my mind though!

SunshinePanda Fri 17-Jan-14 20:08:50

drip feeds not drop!blush

Just finished it and it was by far the best thing I have read in a year.
At first the writing style irked me. First person /second person present tense. I wonder whether it truly adds anything to the drama?
I raced through the first 3/4 of the book but for me it went off the boil once the courtroom scene at the beginning was repeated. I read the last 30 or 40 pages with a sense of disappointment that the plot was over, although I was unprepared for the final reveal.
I too thought the mother and baby chimp story was chilling.

musicmaiden Sun 19-Jan-14 20:07:15

I found it very powerful and well written, I thought it brought up a lot of very interesting issues that made the book more than just a thriller.

My question is: what was the thinking behind the preface with its partial spoiler pointing towards the ultimate outcome? I thought it was a very curious thing to do and I felt the courtroom portion would have been a lot more shocking and unexpected without it. It was clearly a very deliberate choice on Louise's part so I'd like to understand her thinking.

aristocat Mon 20-Jan-14 13:42:19

Well, I really enjoyed this complex and thrilling book.

I loved the 'drip feed' element of the story and the fact that as the reader at the start, you are left wondering what is going on - what is the charge/ how did they end up in court and how will it all end?

I noticed that you actually went to the Old Bailey (for research purposes) and assume that helped you with the courtroom scenes .... which were brilliant! I also enjoyed the rollercoaster that was Ys and my emotions.

I found the male characters the most interesting, and how our initial perceptions of them are so inaccurate. The way we judge others and how we judge ourselves is so realistic and what makes it such a page turner.

Personally I would have enjoyed another couple of chapters reading about how Y changed. A superb book, thank you smile

At the start I thought I was going to hate it - I disliked both of the main characters, largely because I found the idea of the affair distasteful (my own issue I think.) I found Mark repellent from the very beginning and I think I just lost any respect for Yvonne for being involved with him.

However, I enjoyed the trial scenes even though I found it difficult to believe that she would lie to the court in the first place and perjure herself.

Overall though, a book about a middle age woman combining work and family and with an interest in sex is welcome.

flutterbynight Mon 20-Jan-14 21:38:09

As well as finding this book compulsive reading, I thought it was gritty, exciting and chilling - a page turner from beginning to end. I have already passed my copy to a friend and am sure she won't be the last to read it!

I would be interested to know which of her characters Louise most enjoyed inventing and writing about - obviously Yvonne is the main focus of the book and therefore presumably took most time and attention to develop, but I also found lots of the other characters intriguing and would love to have known a bit more about them!

Can I also concur with the above comment about MS. I also have MS, diagnosed for two years now and didn't recognise the idea of anyone in the "early stages" needing to be in a wheelchair. Most people with MS NEVER need a wheelchair.

Thank you to everyone above for their excellent comments and questions - I'll be forwarding them on to Louise at the end of the week.

Meanwhile, if there are any more advance questions out there, you've got until Friday to pop them up here...

Looking forward to next Tuesday 28, there's going to be a lot to discuss - see you in a week's time and very much hope you can all make it.

Gargamella Tue 21-Jan-14 23:05:27

A fantastic read. Thank you. I found this so poignant in many places. I thought I really knew the issues about how rape trials are conducted but felt shocked all over again when these came up in Yvonne's story.

I did warm to Yvonne anyway. I think it was the way she was taken in because of her need to believe in Mark.

I'm always interested in how much of a back story the characters have which the author decides not to include. I kept expecting to learn more about the son's mental health problems. Was that ever intended to be a bigger part of the novel?

RightRoyalPainInTheArse Wed 22-Jan-14 15:09:12

I thought this was an excellent book, can't join next week but just wanted to pass that on.

lolaangel Wed 22-Jan-14 17:35:14

Thankyou for choosing me to receive the book.
I have lots and lots of books that I buy because they
sound good, then unfortunately I loose interest or I'm just
too busy to read them.

This I was adamant to at least start in good time and hoped
I would finish.
I'm so glad I did, I have read it at home, in bed, in the car, whilst making tea and while changing the babies nappy!

I couldn't put it down. I have only ever read one other book
that had this affect on me. I was addicted and couldn't get to the end fast enough.

Loved it!!

DuchessofMalfi Wed 22-Jan-14 18:16:02

I don't think I'm going to be finished in time to ask a question, but I'm really enjoying it so far. Can't wait to sit down this evening and read on smile

mmack Wed 22-Jan-14 22:22:26

spoilers

One big question I have about the book is about the letters on Yvonne's computer. Guy deleted the letters from the computer therefore he was aware of the affair, which suggests that her knew her very well. But then how could he not have known she was deeply traumatised from an attack? That didn't ring true to me at all.

IWasThere4Aug12 Fri 24-Jan-14 22:29:09

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

Paloolah Sun 26-Jan-14 14:30:59

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!

DuchessofMalfi Sun 26-Jan-14 15:54:11

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.

louisedoughtynovelist Mon 27-Jan-14 17:44:47

I'm looking forward to chatting to everyone tomorrow night. A word of warning - I may be cagey about giving answers that give away big plot developments...

TheOnlyOliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 27-Jan-14 18:50:54

marking place excitedly

bookmole Mon 27-Jan-14 21:32:12

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.

DuchessofMalfi Mon 27-Jan-14 22:07:29

Met line reference was a nostalgia trip for me too. I (wrongly?) assumed at one point Yvonne lived in Amersham or Chesham - end of the met line.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 15:57:23

sherazade

where do I fill my details to claim a free copy?

test

The part that most struck me was the construct of Yvonne and Guys marriage.
His prolonged affair and her cool wife attitude to it. They barely seemed to interact at all which led me to wonder why their marriage was heralded by them as happy. Denial?
I also found the session with Marks' Police Officer friend harrowing as it showed, quite clearly, how rape victims have to be incredibly brave (or naive) in order to seek justice through the courts.
This book will stay with me for a long time.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 18:36:34

I'm looking forward to coming online soon but just wanted to say that although I won't have time to reply to everyone, I have read all the comments so far and want to thank all the people who posted some wonderful positive and thoughtful thoughts reactions to the book. I'm in the throes of a new one at the moment and all encouragement is very gratefully received.

I downloaded the book from Audible. If you like an audio book, be warned, you will stay up all night (on a school night) be knackered all day, then do it all over again the next night as it is impossible to switch off...

Crack on with the new book Louise, I'll be booking leave when it comes out grin

janajos Tue 28-Jan-14 19:43:15

I enjoyed your book enormously and in particular the interplay between the characters and Yvonne's lack of self-respect as she falls prey to a man who is flattering her ego, perhaps, as we learn, repairing the damage her husband's affair has done. I found it appealing to see a strong, intelligent female lead portrayed with depths of insecurity and a reality we rarely see, you have certainly not fallen into stereotypical characterisation.

The only part of the book I found unsatisfying, was the ending. I did not feel that Yvonne would have been a conscious party to murder, much more likely was her unwitting involvement I felt. Did you feel under publisher's pressure to write this ending and if not, why did you feel that it was a possibility.

ktlq Tue 28-Jan-14 19:45:51

Hi Louise,

So this is a really cheeky question and I expect you get asked it a lot. Basically, I want to know if you know anyone who has done an 'Apple Tree Yard' in London because, as a Londoner, I can't believe it would ever happen - do you think it ever does?! Should we all be vigilant from now on?!

Also, did you know the Houses of Parliament before you wrote this book? You seemed to write so effortlessly about all of your locations. I am definitely going to have to have a coffee in that cafe opposite Apple Tree Yard now - weird I know. I hope it exists!

Can't wait to read your other books and will be recommending to my non-virtual book club. I particularly like the way you bring sexual equality out as a theme. Such great subject matter. I was shocked, thrilled and dumbfounded. Best wishes.

Southeastdweller Tue 28-Jan-14 19:47:57

I also assumed that Yvonne lived at the end of the Met line so I was surprised when she said she lived in Uxbridge. I couldn't see someone like her living there but that's one of the things I loved about the book - having my assumptions challenged.

simbo Tue 28-Jan-14 20:12:33

Am I the only one who felt no sympathy (and certainly no empathy)for Yvonne? The launch pad for her demise was surely her self-importance, the sense that this enigmatic stranger had chosen her to play a starring role in his grubby fantasy. Her home life was far from satisfactory.She and Guy have slipped well and truly into the comfort zone in their marriage, and become almost fraternal.I thought she got off rather lightly, all things considered.I cannot accept that she didn't know what had happened in the house when they go to visit the creep. He thought she thought too much of herself, too. And as for her perjury, that was the only humanising part of her. It was he point at which she seemed to wake up and realise that she was about to be exposed and publicly shamed.

I found the book intriguing and thought provoking, not necessarily enjoyable.

Greedygirl Tue 28-Jan-14 20:24:38

Loved the book, not always a pleasant read but so well written and very thought-provoking. I loved the court scenes, I have never read anything like them, I really felt the claustrophobia. I was not entirely convinced by her lover and wondered why she had been taken in by him so but maybe we see what we want to...

I felt she ignored the actuality of her lover, much in the same way as she did her husband.
She endowed him with imaginary characteristics to feed her fantasy, therefore changing what was really a somewhat squalid affair into a grand passion, IYSWIM?

PlatoonBuffoon Tue 28-Jan-14 20:37:50

I absolutely loved this book, and like others, enjoyed having my assumptions challenged. The most interesting aspect for me, was that throughout the book, we only see things in the way Yvonne decides to share them, and I felt that at certain parts of the story she isn't telling the story as it actually happened, more how she perceived it, or how she wanted to believe things. I really liked the end -for me it made me feel that we didn't really know Yvonne all along and showed the bias of story telling and the unreliabilty of witness testimony (not necessarily in the court room sense, but personal accounts of day to day events).

Perhaps this was just my reaction to Yvonne but I found her an unreliable and untrustworthy protagonist. But not in a way that made me dislike her. I think if is a facet of human nature - we believe stories as we tell them but are not always true to our audience or even ourselves.

Loved, loved, loved it. Thanks Louise, can't wait for your next one!

gin33333 Tue 28-Jan-14 20:42:50

An interesting read i havent managed to read all of the book yet only half due to a house move its a interesting read easy to pick up very different words used i dont usually read this type of book this one is different to other courtroom books i have read very original a lot of thought and ideas has been used for this book looking forward to reading the rest of the book as i cant put the book down now great read

yUMMYmUMMYb Tue 28-Jan-14 20:44:47

Well, although it is the most gripping book I have read in a very long time I am not yet finished. Thanks for a great read. I sense a twist coming, but no idea what it could be?!? I am mid court scenes and I don't want to read something that spoils the ending for me, so just a quick question before I disappear...
I only realised he was called Mark during the trial, was this avoidance of name deliberate earlier in the book?

Would make a fab film / tv drama. if you could choose anyone, who would play the lead characters?

Thanks again Louise, stunning book. Will be recommending heartily

Greedygirl Tue 28-Jan-14 20:57:52

katiescarlett yes I think idswym so maybe it was deliberate to make us question what she was doing in the same way that you sometimes just can't see what a friend sees in someone but they are clearly smitten.

I have a question - why did she keep using terms of endearment for Mark throughout the court case "my love" etc. - her infatuation must have been completely spent by that point.

Evening everyone

I'm thrilled to welcome back Louise Doughty, who did her first excellent Mumsnet webchat in 2012 on creative writing, and who joins us tonight to discuss her latest novel, APPLE TREE YARD. Alongside writing highly acclaimed novels, Louise has written for radio and broadcast, writes a weekly column for the Daily Telegraph (Short Story Club), is a regular on BBC Radio 4, has taught a Mumsnet Academy course and was a judge of the Man Booker Prize in 2008.

Louise, thank you very much indeed once again for taking the time to be here tonight. And congratulations on such an engrossing, thought-provoking novel. We'll kick off with the advance questions from further up the thread. And then we'll aim to get through as many as possible over the next hour.

I'd also like to ask you the two standard Mumsnet questions we like to ask all Bookclub authors:

Which childhood book most inspired you?

What would be the first piece of advice you would give anyone attempting to write fiction? (you already comprehensively covered this in your last web chat, but wondered what might be your number one top tip!)

Over to you…

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:02:43

Greedygirl

katiescarlett yes I think idswym so maybe it was deliberate to make us question what she was doing in the same way that you sometimes just can't see what a friend sees in someone but they are clearly smitten.

I have a question - why did she keep using terms of endearment for Mark throughout the court case "my love" etc. - her infatuation must have been completely spent by that point.

TillyBookClub

Evening everyone

I'm thrilled to welcome back Louise Doughty, who did her first excellent Mumsnet webchat in 2012 on creative writing, and who joins us tonight to discuss her latest novel, APPLE TREE YARD. Alongside writing highly acclaimed novels, Louise has written for radio and broadcast, writes a weekly column for the Daily Telegraph (Short Story Club), is a regular on BBC Radio 4, has taught a Mumsnet Academy course and was a judge of the Man Booker Prize in 2008.

Louise, thank you very much indeed once again for taking the time to be here tonight. And congratulations on such an engrossing, thought-provoking novel. We'll kick off with the advance questions from further up the thread. And then we'll aim to get through as many as possible over the next hour.

I'd also like to ask you the two standard Mumsnet questions we like to ask all Bookclub authors:

Which childhood book most inspired you?

What would be the first piece of advice you would give anyone attempting to write fiction? (you already comprehensively covered this in your last web chat, but wondered what might be your number one top tip!)

Over to you?

Good evening everyone, thanks for having me back. I was obsessed with the Narnia books as a child: they were a real introduction to creating a whole imaginary world. I was devastated when I realised they weren't real. The first piece of advice I would give anyone wanting to write is to read read read - anything and everything you can get your hands on. That's how all writers are born.

I can't work out where I'm supposed to be for this webchat???

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:04:16

Greedygirl

katiescarlett yes I think idswym so maybe it was deliberate to make us question what she was doing in the same way that you sometimes just can't see what a friend sees in someone but they are clearly smitten.

I have a question - why did she keep using terms of endearment for Mark throughout the court case "my love" etc. - her infatuation must have been completely spent by that point.

It's getting pretty sardonic by then... but yes, there is an element of her being unable to see Mark for what he is even when the evidence is in front of her, and of her trying desperately to forgive his many failings in order to justify her own behaviour.

Thanks Louise grin

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:05:35

yUMMYmUMMYb

Well, although it is the most gripping book I have read in a very long time I am not yet finished. Thanks for a great read. I sense a twist coming, but no idea what it could be?!? I am mid court scenes and I don't want to read something that spoils the ending for me, so just a quick question before I disappear...
I only realised he was called Mark during the trial, was this avoidance of name deliberate earlier in the book?

Would make a fab film / tv drama. if you could choose anyone, who would play the lead characters?

Thanks again Louise, stunning book. Will be recommending heartily

Thank you - it's in development at present and there are some very big names being mentioned for Yvonne but I'm not allowed to say who yet. It would be a plum part for someone - there's a couple of people I will really swoon over if they agree to do it...

Is this where I should be for the webchat?

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:07:32

PlatoonBuffoon

I absolutely loved this book, and like others, enjoyed having my assumptions challenged. The most interesting aspect for me, was that throughout the book, we only see things in the way Yvonne decides to share them, and I felt that at certain parts of the story she isn't telling the story as it actually happened, more how she perceived it, or how she wanted to believe things. I really liked the end -for me it made me feel that we didn't really know Yvonne all along and showed the bias of story telling and the unreliabilty of witness testimony (not necessarily in the court room sense, but personal accounts of day to day events).

Perhaps this was just my reaction to Yvonne but I found her an unreliable and untrustworthy protagonist. But not in a way that made me dislike her. I think if is a facet of human nature - we believe stories as we tell them but are not always true to our audience or even ourselves.

Loved, loved, loved it. Thanks Louise, can't wait for your next one!

Yes that's right, that's how I see it too - she does get the facts right, it's her perceptions that are off, her determination to interpret things a certain way in order to make sense of her own version. See the Janet Malcolm quote at the beginning: I love that quote. 'We go through life mis-seeing and mishearing and misunderstanding so that the stories we tell ourselves will add up.'

Southeastdweller Tue 28-Jan-14 21:08:50

I found the subplot of Adam's estrangement with his parents, in particular Yvonne, intriguing. I don't remember it being mentioned, but do you think she felt guilty about his illness?

Thoroughly enjoyed the book, Louise, and I'm delighted for you that it's doing so well.

Over40, you are in the right place...

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 28-Jan-14 21:09:19

over40andmumtoone

Is this where I should be for the webchat?

Yes ! post your question up to Louise on this post. Her answers will come up alongside the question, but shaded in gold. Let us know if you need any further assistance.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:10:19

ktlq

Hi Louise,

So this is a really cheeky question and I expect you get asked it a lot. Basically, I want to know if you know anyone who has done an 'Apple Tree Yard' in London because, as a Londoner, I can't believe it would ever happen - do you think it ever does?! Should we all be vigilant from now on?!

Also, did you know the Houses of Parliament before you wrote this book? You seemed to write so effortlessly about all of your locations. I am definitely going to have to have a coffee in that cafe opposite Apple Tree Yard now - weird I know. I hope it exists!

Can't wait to read your other books and will be recommending to my non-virtual book club. I particularly like the way you bring sexual equality out as a theme. Such great subject matter. I was shocked, thrilled and dumbfounded. Best wishes.

Well, you'll be pleased to hear that wasn't a scene I researched personally... although you can imagine the jokes I've had from friends about it. I does happen though (I've asked around). And you only have to take a look at the tabloids once in a while to see stories of footballers doing dodgy things down alleyways or in car parks.
I didn't know the Houses of P but I had two long tours/research trips there and managed to find a very helpful cop who showed me around. I loved working out the geography of the place, which is quite confusing. There were quite a few options for venues for Chapter One.

hollytom Tue 28-Jan-14 21:11:16

I am enjoying the book, not finished yet. I will be looking to read some of your other books next! I see Apple Tree Yard has been selected as a Richard and Judy book club does that make an impact on sales still? I know that it used to but is it still a big thing for an author to be selected?

Greedygirl Tue 28-Jan-14 21:11:21

Thank you for replying...I wondered at one point if she was grateful for what Mark had done and the affection was therefore genuine. Looking forward to your next book and going to read your others now!

kristinage Tue 28-Jan-14 21:12:06

Brilliant book, really enjoyed reading it. Is something never came across before...provoking and intriguing...Will recommend to read to all my friends.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:12:13

janajos

I enjoyed your book enormously and in particular the interplay between the characters and Yvonne's lack of self-respect as she falls prey to a man who is flattering her ego, perhaps, as we learn, repairing the damage her husband's affair has done. I found it appealing to see a strong, intelligent female lead portrayed with depths of insecurity and a reality we rarely see, you have certainly not fallen into stereotypical characterisation.

The only part of the book I found unsatisfying, was the ending. I did not feel that Yvonne would have been a conscious party to murder, much more likely was her unwitting involvement I felt. Did you feel under publisher's pressure to write this ending and if not, why did you feel that it was a possibility.

No, no pressure from the publisher, I take full blame for the ending! It isn't supposed to imply she is actually responsible for the murder (SPOILER ALERT!!) so much that things are a bit more ambiguous than they seem - legally, it does in fact make her responsible but morally? Plenty of people say that kind of thing without meaning it. I was hoping to leave a question in the reader's mind about her level of culpability.

frogletsmum Tue 28-Jan-14 21:12:29

Hi Louise, I hope I'm not too late to ask a question. I was absolutely gripped by this book and found myself completely caught up in Yvonne's narration, only starting to wonder quite late on just how reliable she is. I particularly liked the way we find things out slowly, little by little. I wanted to ask, how much of your plot do you have worked out before you actually start writing? And did anything about the characters surprise you and make you change the plot as you went along?
Thanks for a great read and I can't wait for the next one!

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:12:31

louloutheshamed

**MNHQ WARNS: SPOILER ALERT**

Omg!! This was one the best books I have read all year (about 30 so far- not bad for someone with toddler and newborn!)

I don't have a question specifically but just wanted to say to Louise how much I loved the book.

What I thought was so so clever was the way that it turns things on its head as a way of examining how women are treated in the courtroom. The fact that George behaved so monstrously would have worked in Yvonne's favour in a rape trial but worked against her in a murder trial as a motive, and Yvonne points out that as the defendant in a murder trial she is treated the same as a victim in a rape trial- such a clever way of examining attitudes to rape and the way women are treated and the terrible victim blaming that is still so prevalent.

Also I was fascinated by the Kevin character and what he said about rape defence lawyers- all the dirt digging etc. was it a harrowing book to research? It certainly
Made me very angry.

Also I am interested in the son character- he seemed to have depression/mh problems? What was the motivation behind his inclusion as a character?

Thanks – Kevin was based quite closely on a real officer I met during the research and, sad to say, every single fact or line of dialogue on that issue is taken directly from something an officer or lawyer said to me – in fact, I had to tone it down. Delighted you liked the book, thank you!

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:13:37

StillNoFuckingEyeDeer

I don't have any questions really, just wondered the same as loulou really - how hard was it (emotionally) to research?

I was captivated by this book. I found it difficult to put down. It's very intelligent & thought provoking, but quite unsettling too.
I don't want to say anything about the plot, but it's twisty and the story keeps going. I can't really say what I felt about the ending without giving things away which might ruin it for someone else, but if there was a weak point,for me it was the ending. Having said that, I would definitely recommend the book and have already passed it on to its next reader.

The research was hard work but fascinating – it’s one of my favourite bits and in this case I spoke to a lot of police officers, lawyers and scientists and spent 3 weeks sitting through a real life murder trial at the Old Bailey.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:13:59

KatieScarlett

I downloaded the book from Audible. If you like an audio book, be warned, you will stay up all night (on a school night) be knackered all day, then do it all over again the next night as it is impossible to switch off...

Crack on with the new book Louise, I'll be booking leave when it comes out grin

Thanks Katie that's lovely to hear. I had the great pleasure of going into the studio to hear Juliet Stevenson do a bit of the recording and she was amazing - hardly needed any retakes and just had a perfect voice for Yvonne I thought, modulated and intelligent but with a real edge of vulnerability.

Juliet was flawless as the narrator, she just was Yvonne.

I found this book absolutely gripping, it kept me up until the early hours. I found Yvonne rather interesting, to be 'respectable' and then have an affair like she did. Should I have been shocked by the twist at the end? I was a bit, I'd been taken to totally by her persona, but not sure I was ever totally convinced on Mark's 'career'. Brilliant book though, I await your next one!

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:18:15

sherazade

a question on behalf of a colleague

*Did Mark genuinely love Yvonne and was she the one who was using him to her advantage? And did Yvonne see their relationship as purely sexual and did she remain emotionally detached from ?*

Tell your colleague that's a very interesting question... My feeling is that there love for each other is genuine, but that there is still and element of them using each other. He loves the fantasy of himself as some heroic obsessive lover - and she's ready to be the object of heroic obsessive love, so they are feeding each other's fantasies. I think it's one of these situations where together, they form more than the sum of their parts. They egg each other on. So, yes they love each other but yes they are using each other too. I hope that makes sense.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:18:29

foolonthehill

*potential spoiler*

All the characters are flawed in one way or another, was there a point where you (the author) fell in or out of love with each of them?

The husband is drawn in quite a dispassionate way...was he always going to surprise his wife by his knowledge of her/what was going on or did that come at later stage of story construction?

the legal detail is very accurate, what did you feel as you discovered how victims are treated in rape cases...or was it something you already knew about?

If you were to write a sequel or the same story from a different point of view which character would you choose and why?...to the author and readers.

I could see how the son's illness lay in the background of the way the characters dealt with one another, if you could give any character one "healing conversation" with another character which would you choose?

Thanks – just to take your first question for now, yes, you’re absolutely right that all the characters are flawed. To me, a character’s flaws are what make them interesting to write about and I’ve never been interested in writing men or women who are completely good or evil. Of course you take the risk that a character’s flaws will sometimes make the unsympathetic to the reader but I don’t really mind if some readers find a character unlikeable as long as they find them engaging. And yes, the son’s mental illness is really the heart of Yvonne’s emotional core, although I underplayed it quite carefully as it’s a subject deserving of its own whole novel in many ways and that wasn’t what Apple Tree Yard was.

Gargamella Tue 28-Jan-14 21:19:32

Hi Louise - How did you choose the trial to sit in on for your research? Did you have lawyers looking out for something suitable based on your parameter?

The ref to Juliet Stevenson re audio book reminded me she was in a TV programme a few years ago about the different ways you could portray a rape scene to make it either titillating or a clear depiction of violence. Anyone else see that?

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:20:56

webster147

I really enjoyed the book, so much so that I found it hard to put it down and ended up reading it in just a few days. I loved how detailed Louise was about the areas in London that she was describing, allowing the reader to almost share the moment with the character Yvonne.
There were lots of little unexpected twists to the story that kept me wanting to turn the pages.
I can't wait to read some of Louise's other books.

My question for Louise is, Did you learn new things about the areas in London when you were doing your research for the book ?

Yes I loved wandering around bits of London I didn’t know. I really fell for the atmosphere of that area of Westminster, the Houses of Parliament, St James – it houses the buildings that have the corridors of power, as one character says, but also all these secret little alleyways and pubs with dim windows – some of it is still quite Dickensian. It seemed a very apposite geographical representation of how the characters themselves are inside themselves.

rupert43 Tue 28-Jan-14 21:21:24

Brilliant for my first book of the month giveaway! Roll on the next book.....a totally unrelated book question but what would you get up to if you were invisible for the day?! :-)

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:21:51

Southeastdweller

I found the subplot of Adam's estrangement with his parents, in particular Yvonne, intriguing. I don't remember it being mentioned, but do you think she felt guilty about his illness?

Thoroughly enjoyed the book, Louise, and I'm delighted for you that it's doing so well.

Yes she does feel incredibly guilty, although I was careful not to state that too plainly - maternal guilt, does it ever end? In a strange way, she also feels guilty about her daughter's success, her self-containment (she is her mother's daughter, after all.) Her children are old enough to be responsible for themselves but I don't think that self-questioning element of parenting ever ends.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:22:18

SiouxieSioux

I finished it in a couple of days and found it absorbing. To me the theme of Judgement,Guilt,Truth and Innocence run through it. How we judge others, how the stories we tell about ourselves and others defines our perception ,arrogance and how the lies we spin become conveniently embedded as truths. Justice in the case of the characters in this book was it served and not just in the court room and is revenge a greater motivator than love?

You’re absolutely right, it really is a plea for us all to be a little less judgemental of others.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:23:22

rupert43

Brilliant for my first book of the month giveaway! Roll on the next book.....a totally unrelated book question but what would you get up to if you were invisible for the day?! :-)

Um, that's a good one... I would sneak into all the places I'm not allowed to go - I've already done the Houses of Parliament and the cell area of the Old Bailey, so it would be places like, the editorial offices of newspapers, the MI5 building, Downing Street. Just think of the material...

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:23:33

sparkysparkysparky

Apologies for failing to post a full message (above).
I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I loved the challenge of judging (and not judging) Yvonne as the plot unfolded.
My only criticism is of the description of George's father as being in early stage MS. It jarred with me.
If you have only recently been diagnosed with MS ( I got my diagnosis 3 years ago), it would be too soon to characterise it as a progressively degenerative condition (as was the implication here by the use of the term "early stage"). It is also unlikely that a man of George's father's likely age would have only had a recent diagnosis. I'm in my 40s and am a bit of late starter for MS. I'm guessing this character would be in his late 50'/early 60's.
My questions for Louise is - Did you base George's father on someone you know with MS?
I concede that the description of George's father may match somebody - MS is too capricious a condition to be the same for everyone. However, it would be unusual to be such a late starter and for the diagnosis of progressive MS (there are other versions) to be so clear.
This minor character also had me asking myself whether I would exaggerate the extent of my condition - demand a wheelchair - if I thought it would increase the likelihood that my allegedly evil son's killers would be punished? It added an extra dimension to my "what would I do in this scenario?" sessions that I had when considering Yvonne and other major characters.

Yes I’m afraid George’s father is drawn from two of my family members who have/had MS – as you say, it’s a very capricious condition – but the family member of mine who was diagnosed relatively young is doing brilliantly. Good point about how he feels about the wheelchair – I hint it was the Family Liaison Officer’s idea, and it was, but he’s certainly ready to go along with it. Such factors do count in court, sadly, and of course from his point of view, he just wants justice for his son.

notqueenbee Tue 28-Jan-14 21:25:15

Hi Louise,

Loved the book!
Could you give us a brief idea of how you actually PLANNED the book?
what idea did you start with?Many thanks. Wish I could write like you!

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:26:21

Gargamella

Hi Louise - How did you choose the trial to sit in on for your research? Did you have lawyers looking out for something suitable based on your parameter?

The ref to Juliet Stevenson re audio book reminded me she was in a TV programme a few years ago about the different ways you could portray a rape scene to make it either titillating or a clear depiction of violence. Anyone else see that?

I didn't see that programme, interesting though, and a very potent topic. The trial was found for me by a wonderful lawyer contact at the Crown Prosecution Service. She asked me what I needed and I said I needed to sit through a trial with two defendants on trial for murder, where the forensics were not really in doubt but the issue was moral responsibility (actually true of most murder cases these days). She found me the perfect one - although it was incredibly sobering seeing the very real and potent pain of the family of the victim, who were in court, one of those occasions when being a novelist feels like a very small and insignificant thing next to the real-life drama. I still think of those people.

Gargamella Tue 28-Jan-14 21:27:26

I know what you mean about Westminster. I had a job that took me into that area for a while and used to just wander in my lunch breaks...

PlatoonBuffoon Tue 28-Jan-14 21:27:36

Hi Louise. Hope it's not too cheeky to ask a second question. I was delighted you answered my first. Thank you! I was quite surprised up thread where you said there were a few possible venues for the first encounter. I had assumed that having it by the plaque for Emily Davison was a nod to some of the novels later themes. I thought it was a perfect, thought provoking location!. I'm intrigued to know what the other possibilities were!

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:29:01

notqueenbee

Hi Louise,

Loved the book!
Could you give us a brief idea of how you actually PLANNED the book?
what idea did you start with?Many thanks. Wish I could write like you!

I never plan until quite late in the day - ie, when I have a whole body of material. So I wrote loads of scenes before I decided on the order in which they would appear. At one point, Chapter One was the opening of the trial as it begins in Part Three and the whole novel returned to the trial intermittently throughout. Then I realised it was a bit bitty and confusing for me - and that if I felt like that then the reader certainly would. So I ordered things more chronologically. Lots of restructuring needed though - it really was a complex one this time. I'm hoping to make my job a bit easier with the new book which has a much simpler structure.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:29:34

sherazade

*SPOILER ALERT*

Thank you mumsnet for my free copy of this riveting book! I have to say I have not carefully and slowly savoured every word of a novel for a very long time. I thought it very clever how our own hypocrisy and prejudices are unveiled throughout the course of the story. We are quick to judge Yvonne for her actions and are lead to pity her husband for her betrayal : 'a kindly man... large and balding', only to shortly discover that he is the one who has been breaking her heart all along with absolutely no remorse. The stark hypocrisy is blinding: his long standing affair conveniently carries on without drama, the results of hers are unspeakably disastrous. We are heartbroken along with her, when she reveals in her moment of utter despair, that she has never begged him for anything, and even her wish for him to leave his young lover as always been nothing more than a request, so subtly and humbly worded, with his interests at heart: 'Could he please, for both our sakes, finish it with his young lover, for once and for all'. Here is a woman who is so completely selfless and dedicated to her husband and family. Her only urgent plea in the entire lifetime of their marriage is that he stays away from her trial so that he and the children are protected from the awful revelation and possible humiliation. I thought that her characterisation throughout this novel was excellent.

I do have one quesiton regarding her however:

Was Yvonne mentally unhinged? The clues that point towards this possibility are her family history of mental illness, the fact that she reflects on her mothers own suicide and her sons's suicide without ever looking 'inwardly' at herself. She is so consumed by the motivations of others (constantly trying to deconstruct her lovers actions and intentions, constantly trying to figure out what makes her son tick and why he does what he does) but she very rarely unpacks her own actions and choices, leaving the reader to question whether she is capable of doing so. Her lover commites an obvious crime when he returns to the car with his clothes changed and she brushes over what could have happened, momentarily dipping into why, in hindsight, she never asked him what had happened and then quickly escaping the issue.

The other factor is that she was clearly enraged by the rape and expressed a desire to have the rapist killed and suggests to her lover that he murder him. (Although I have never been in this position so...)

Thirdly, she refers to the man who ultimately betrays her as 'my love' throughout the novel having full knowledge of the potential consequences for his betrayal. The thread that runs throughout the novel is the secrecy of their relationship, at several points in the story he reminds her that nobody must ever know that they were lovers. She sticks to her end of the bargain with the utmost fervour and it is him who betrays her in the end. Why then does she still refer to him with an irrational, almost manic tenderness throughout her retelling of her harrowing trial in court?

Thanks mumsnet once again for the opportunity to read this wonderful book and to Louise Doughty for having written it. A great choice for book of the month!

Thanks for all that – lovely to have such detailed thoughts on Yvonne. She isn’t unhinged, but she very easily could be. In a way, I was trying to suggest that her extreme rationality, and her choice of science as a career, is a flight from all the emotional upset she has experienced in other areas of her life: she is almost quite psychotically logical (if that makes sense), until something happens to her that all her rationalities cannot explain. You are right that her referring to Mark as ‘my love’ right until the end doesn’t really make sense – there’s an element of her being sardonic at times, but also an element of recognition on her part that what she is feeling isn’t logical at all.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:29:56

PlatoonBuffoon

Hi Louise. Hope it's not too cheeky to ask a second question. I was delighted you answered my first. Thank you! I was quite surprised up thread where you said there were a few possible venues for the first encounter. I had assumed that having it by the plaque for Emily Davison was a nod to some of the novels later themes. I thought it was a perfect, thought provoking location!. I'm intrigued to know what the other possibilities were!

Oh the list is endless... disabled toilets, MPs offices, endless disused rooms and cubby holes... but you're right, it was the plaque to Emily Wilding Davison that swung it.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:30:22

brendarenda

*Spoiler alert*
Like others, I really loved this book and thought it was a great choice.
I struggled a bit at first to understand Yvonne's reasons for falling for such an unappealing man as Mark. Their sexual encounters were all on his terms, and she was largely powerless throughout the relationship. But there is obviously something strangely appealing about not being in the driving seat, perhaps especially for a woman like Yvonne who was used to being in control.
Later on we discover that Yvonne feels she was open to Mark's advances because she had fallen out of love with her own 'competence'. She was very able in lots of ways and in control and had coped and juggled for years and then perhaps just wanted to let go.
Was this something that Louise was interested in exploring? The idea that when we fall for someone, it might say more about our own situation than the person we happen to fall in love with?
I was also intrigued by the male characters and the way they evolved throughout the book. The husband starts off safe and predictable, then we find out he?s an adulterer, but he morphs into a bit of a hero by the end. The lover is mysterious and sexually exciting before being revealed to be a sad Walter Mitty character who ultimately betrays Yvonne to save his own sorry skin. The affable colleague turns into a violent rapist. None of these characters occupies a set role. Instead they all switch between different positions, leaving the reader with an uncomfortable feeling of shifting sands. Maybe this is the point? Like someone else said, it?s playing around with the idea of judgement and our desire to judge others in black or white (guilty/not guilty) versus the reality of lots of grey.

You’re right about the male characters – they do all stand on shifting sands. In several places, I was trying to hint that George is almost Mark’s evil twin, what the passion and persuasion of Mark could turn into if it was tinged with violence. It was quite important that Guy had his flaws too, as I wanted the reader to feel some sympathy with Yvonne’s choices, given what she has put up with at home.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:31:21

over40andmumtoone

I found this book absolutely gripping, it kept me up until the early hours. I found Yvonne rather interesting, to be 'respectable' and then have an affair like she did. Should I have been shocked by the twist at the end? I was a bit, I'd been taken to totally by her persona, but not sure I was ever totally convinced on Mark's 'career'. Brilliant book though, I await your next one!

Thank you - yes what made Yvonne interesting for me is that her behaviour is, as it turns out, so out of character. If she'd been a person who did that kind of thing all the time, I wouldn't have found her nearly as interesting to write about.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:31:45

bunnybing

Really enjoyed Apple Tree Yard, especially the court scenes and the interplay between the legal professionals, defendants and witnesses.

One thing I wondered - did you always intend to make Yvonne's husband Guy an adulterer, or did you decide that later on, based on a decision to make Yvonne seem more sympathetic to your readers than if she'd taken a lover without this as a precedent?

Yes, completely spot on re Guy being an adulterer, see answer to Brendarenda above – poor old Guy. But I didn’t want him to be just the Good Husband figure waiting at home. He had to have his own sins to count.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:34:00

frogletsmum

Hi Louise, I hope I'm not too late to ask a question. I was absolutely gripped by this book and found myself completely caught up in Yvonne's narration, only starting to wonder quite late on just how reliable she is. I particularly liked the way we find things out slowly, little by little. I wanted to ask, how much of your plot do you have worked out before you actually start writing? And did anything about the characters surprise you and make you change the plot as you went along?
Thanks for a great read and I can't wait for the next one!

In this case, I had very little of the plot worked out beforehand. When I stuck Yvonne in the witness box at the Old Bailey, I wasn't even too sure what she was charged with, other than I knew it was very serious - and I knew that she was about to be caught out in a very damaging lie. I also knew what she had done in Apple Tree Yard but I didn't know how it connected up with her 'crime'. Then I had to write the novel to find out the answer.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:34:16

musicmaiden

I found it very powerful and well written, I thought it brought up a lot of very interesting issues that made the book more than just a thriller.

My question is: what was the thinking behind the preface with its partial spoiler pointing towards the ultimate outcome? I thought it was a very curious thing to do and I felt the courtroom portion would have been a lot more shocking and unexpected without it. It was clearly a very deliberate choice on Louise's part so I'd like to understand her thinking.

Definitely a deliberate choice: I wanted to signal what was at stake for Yvonne, and I wanted the reader to know that when she takes that first step in the Chapel in the Crypt, it’s going to lead in disaster – to the Old Bailey in fact. I have to say everyone loved the Prologue and Faber gave away thousands of copies of it when the hardback came out. But Prologues aren’t to everyone’s taste and I think there’s an argument for saying it’s sometimes more pleasurable when the opening to a book is a slow burn. That’s what I’m aiming for with the one I am writing at the moment.

ktlq Tue 28-Jan-14 21:35:52

Thanks for answering. Your book is also about marriage - do you have any tips for a happy marriage/relationship? Do you believe in monogamy?

When I read this I was strongly reminded of the many marriages of friends' parents that broke down once their children had grown up - ie when they were a similar age to Yvonne. Actually, why did Guy have his affair? Was Yvonne too busy with her work? Or was he 'just a man' as she often says.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:36:45

hollytom

I am enjoying the book, not finished yet. I will be looking to read some of your other books next! I see Apple Tree Yard has been selected as a Richard and Judy book club does that make an impact on sales still? I know that it used to but is it still a big thing for an author to be selected?

Yes it's still a huge deal. There's no television sofa interview now but R&J have a website and, crucially, the interest of WHSmith. Being at the front of a bookshop and in the window transforms the fortunes of a novel because it means you get picked up casually - people don't have to go hunting for you. It was a great piece of luck being picked - and great that the book club and all book clubs such as this and in people's homes and workplaces still seem to be thriving - a cause for celebration, I think.

TheOnlyOliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 28-Jan-14 21:36:47

Hello Louise

I'm not really here as on maternity leave but wanted to say how much I thoroughly enjoyed the book - could not put it down.

I read it before I had my twins 6 weeks ago - can't see much time for reading at the mo, I have recommended it for my RL book club and can't wait to discuss it with them, too.

Am late to the chat because I've been watching trashy tv (the jump) blush
My question is what's your guilty pleasure?

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:40:49

TheOnlyOliviaMumsnet

Hello Louise

I'm not really here as on maternity leave but wanted to say how much I thoroughly enjoyed the book - could not put it down.

I read it before I had my twins 6 weeks ago - can't see much time for reading at the mo, I have recommended it for my RL book club and can't wait to discuss it with them, too.

Am late to the chat because I've been watching trashy tv (the jump) blush
My question is what's your guilty pleasure?

Guilty pleasure... well not encounters with strangers in alleyways, that's for sure! Mine pleasures are all terrible cliches: chocolate, coffee, long walks, long baths... and now my children are older, being able to read the newspaper at the weekends. I still get a huge kick out of that after the many years in which it was impossible.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:42:51

ktlq

Thanks for answering. Your book is also about marriage - do you have any tips for a happy marriage/relationship? Do you believe in monogamy?

When I read this I was strongly reminded of the many marriages of friends' parents that broke down once their children had grown up - ie when they were a similar age to Yvonne. Actually, why did Guy have his affair? Was Yvonne too busy with her work? Or was he 'just a man' as she often says.

I think he was just a man, I'm afraid... I wanted to raise the issue that his (actually far more conventional) affair has, in fact, caused infinitely more damage than her supposedly reprehensible sexual misconduct. What she has done may seem more shocking but she does genuinely believe she can protect her marriage in a way he has failed to do. And in answer to your first question - no, no tips - if only! I believe in monogamy as an ideal to aim for.

notqueenbee Tue 28-Jan-14 21:43:06

Hi Louise,

Another question!
How do you structure your writing day? And how long did the book take you from start to finish?

A question from me if we have time (but don't worry if not):

I heard you on Radio 4 Open Book when the HB was published, discussing Yvonne's treatment by society because she's a 52 year old woman who has dared to be sexual (at least, I think I remember you and Mariella discussing that!) - do you think Yvonne's age is important in the way she is viewed, and how respectable she is supposed to be? Is she punished all the more because she 'should know better' at her age?

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:45:44

notqueenbee

Hi Louise,

Another question!
How do you structure your writing day? And how long did the book take you from start to finish?

I find that nowadays I have to write first thing in the morning - as soon as the front door slams after the last family member to leave the house. If I start unloading the dishwasher or checking my emails, I'm done for. So I put my laptop in my bag and go out to a library or cafe - it's the only way to get anything done.
Apple Tree Yard took 18 months for the first draft, start to finish. Then there was about 6 months of the publication process, including two edits for my editor at Faber and then copy editing, proof reading etc. So really, 2 years.

I think that's what keeps you enthralled, seeing Yvonne going on an unexpected journey and wondering how you would cope with the rape and aftermath too.

TheOnlyOliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 28-Jan-14 21:46:21

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)

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:47:40

flutterbynight

As well as finding this book compulsive reading, I thought it was gritty, exciting and chilling - a page turner from beginning to end. I have already passed my copy to a friend and am sure she won't be the last to read it!

I would be interested to know which of her characters Louise most enjoyed inventing and writing about - obviously Yvonne is the main focus of the book and therefore presumably took most time and attention to develop, but I also found lots of the other characters intriguing and would love to have known a bit more about them!

Thanks, yes you’re right, it’s Yvonne’s book so obviously she was the character I was most obsessed with and I really enjoyed the aspects of her that were different from me – primarily thinking about how a high achieving research scientist might think and feel. I do love minor characters too, though, and had fun with the cops and the courtroom personnel, some of whom are amalgams and some of whom are based quite closely on real people I met during the research. I made another cop friend laugh out loud when I pointed him to the character of DI Cleveland and told him who he was based on. Sketching a character in a few paragraphs is often a great light relief from the business of imagining the whole biography of the main character.

yUMMYmUMMYb Tue 28-Jan-14 21:48:51

Just finished the book - AMAZING!!!!
Great choice for book club. Look forward to seeing who plays Yvonne in the screen version.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:49:51

TillyBookClub

A question from me if we have time (but don't worry if not):

I heard you on Radio 4 Open Book when the HB was published, discussing Yvonne's treatment by society because she's a 52 year old woman who has dared to be sexual (at least, I think I remember you and Mariella discussing that!) - do you think Yvonne's age is important in the way she is viewed, and how respectable she is supposed to be? Is she punished all the more because she 'should know better' at her age?

I will definitely answer Tilly because I'm really glad her age has come up. Yes, and yes! Mariella Frostrup was great - came into the studio cheering because a woman in her 50s was the heroine of a novel - it was only then that I really started to think about how rare that actually is. How many other novels have middle-aged women and their concerns as the chief character and message? There is definitely a feeling in society, I think, that at the age of 52, we all should have hung up the nice underwear and be behaving ourselves - and good luck to any woman who is happy to do that. But not all of us are. The sexuality of the older woman is still considered shocking in a way that the sexuality of the older man just isn't. Anyone remember Sean Connery in a toupee paired as the love interest to the beautiful and young Catherine Zeta Jones. When that happens the other way around, I will eat my night-time moisturiser with a spoon.

louisedoughtynovelist Tue 28-Jan-14 21:51:37

Gargamella

A fantastic read. Thank you. I found this so poignant in many places. I thought I really knew the issues about how rape trials are conducted but felt shocked all over again when these came up in Yvonne's story.

I did warm to Yvonne anyway. I think it was the way she was taken in because of her need to believe in Mark.

I'm always interested in how much of a back story the characters have which the author decides not to include. I kept expecting to learn more about the son's mental health problems. Was that ever intended to be a bigger part of the novel?

Yes as I’ve said above, the son’s mental health issues are really the emotional heart of the book and it’s interesting that a lot of readers have picked up on that. I did consider making more of it, and of Yvonne’s complex relationship with her daughter, but in the end wanted to stick with the central drama of her affair with X and the courtroom drama. Interestingly, for me at least, the screenwriter working on the television adaptation is going to bring out the son’s story a lot more – screen versions always require more fully fleshed out minor characters.

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!

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 21:54:40

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.

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 21:58:17

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.

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 21:58:53

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.

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.

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?

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)

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.

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.

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.

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 22:03:15

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.

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

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

Thanks Louise smile

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!

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.

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/

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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!

ad2014 Tue 11-Feb-14 02:05:37

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