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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely gripping
‘Apple Tree Yard’ opens in a courtroom, with our narrator in the dock, although we don’t yet know her crime. To explain how she got there, Yvonne takes us right back to the beginning - to the events that set everything in motion.

Yvonne is 52, married, has two children and is a successful geneticist. She could be any one of us. As she takes...
Published 14 months ago by Macey89

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Totally unbelievable
Hugely disappointing. The lead character, who is supposed to be a 52-year-old leading scientist who advises the government, behaves like a 17-year-old ingenue with almost no insight into other people's behaviour and motivations. It's just impossible to care what happens to her as she's so unbelievable. The array of great reviews from other writers and newspaper reviewers...
Published 2 months ago by bexdad1


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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely gripping, 14 Mar. 2014
This review is from: Apple Tree Yard (Kindle Edition)
‘Apple Tree Yard’ opens in a courtroom, with our narrator in the dock, although we don’t yet know her crime. To explain how she got there, Yvonne takes us right back to the beginning - to the events that set everything in motion.

Yvonne is 52, married, has two children and is a successful geneticist. She could be any one of us. As she takes pains to point out – her life is ordinary. But the choices she makes over the course of a few short months will take her down a road that Yvonne never thought she would travel.

The direction of the book continually changes as it progresses. Every time we think we can see where the story is leading, something shifts, changing with it our perceptions of characters. The end, when it comes, is a tense and anxious experience, all building up to the one moment that has the potential to change her life forever.

The style of writing in this book, as though the narrator is talking directly to her readers while she tells her story, creates an immediate feeling of intimacy. We are thrown completely into Yvonne’s world and her innermost thoughts. She isn’t too kind on herself, instead treating the whole situation with the type of biting honesty and self-criticism that we all have in hindsight. Because of this intimacy and the way that the story unfolds, we feel each betrayal or cutting remark thrown her way, just as we feel alternately vindicated, frustrated or devastated by every decision Yvonne makes.

We don’t find out Yvonne’s name until quite far into the book. Similarly we don’t know the names of her husband, her children, or her co-defendant. In fact, for much of the book, it is just ‘I’ and ‘You’ and ‘my husband’. When Yvonne does start to use people’s names in her story, it signals a breaking of the exciting, fictional illusion that she has created, and the reality of her decisions and their impact on the people around her starts to creep back in.

This book hits a nerve is because we’re watching someone’s life unravelling right in front of us. We all make bad decisions. We all have secrets. We all have parts of ourselves that we’re not proud of or that we’d like to keep hidden. And as Yvonne is forced to confront her secrets and her choices in a very public way, it’s clear that she could be any one of us, had we only chosen differently.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Psychological thriller combined with a story about the wrong choices and morality, 29 Jan. 2014
This review is from: Apple Tree Yard (Hardcover)
“Apple Tree Yard” by Louise Doughty is a novel that combines psychological thriller with a story about the wrong choices and morality.

In the centre of the story is woman named Yvonne Carmichael who is in her fifties, married and has two grown children. In professional life Yvonne also had only successes and a great career behind, as known geneticist.

But one day she will make irrational choice when during giving evidence to a Select Committee at the Houses of Parliament, she will meet a man and will have sex with him in the Chapel in the Crypt.

This will start an adventure with this man and while getting to know him, she will gradually realize that he is much different from what she thought at the beginning. An adventure that will eventually evolve from casual short-term escape from her marriage will evolve to something serious and lead to violence.

And due to that Yvonne will end up in the trial in the world's most famous court - Old Bailey - accused of the most serious possible crime that she could commit…

Louise Doughty with “Apple Tree Yard” delivered an original and moving novel about a woman in (often unjust) men world; a woman who made a mistake engaging in an affair with terrible ending.

The author successfully avoids many clichés and although at the novel beginning we know what happened to the main, only with the completion of the reading will catch all the threads of the story.

Therefore this story is not one in a series of romantic novels that often are perhaps unfairly called a light literature, but surprisingly the novel that with each page becomes more and more interesting. And although our heroine can sometimes go on our nerves with her behavior, yet reader cannot help but cheer for her, all through the interesting and unexpected end.

“Apple Tree Yard” is novel full of suspense, a psychological thriller that at times starts to seem too heavy for reading due to the darkness which brings, leaving the impression of chill and fear behind – a work that was a big surprise for me, a book worth your time.
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77 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping from start to finish..., 13 July 2013
By 
jaffareadstoo (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Apple Tree Yard (Hardcover)
Sometimes a book you don't expect to like really takes you by surprise and makes you sit up and take notice. Gripping from the beginning this book takes you on a roller coaster of a journey as we watch as Yvonne Carmichael, a renowned scientist, begins an illicit and highly addictive extra marital affair with man who is at first a stranger. This irresponsible liaison which begins with a risky sexual encounter will ultimately spin Yvonne's life out of control.

I think what I found refreshing is that Yvonne is fifty-two, not some inexperienced ingénue, so it could be argued that she should have known better - but what it does prove is that we are never too old to act out of character - and that pushing self destruct buttons is not merely a prerogative of being young and in love.

To say more about this story would be to do the book a complete disservice- it is definitely one of those books which once started you simply can't put down. I started reading it on a sunny day in the garden at about 11:30 and didn't look up, except for food and drink some twelve hours later.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Totally unbelievable, 6 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Apple Tree Yard (Paperback)
Hugely disappointing. The lead character, who is supposed to be a 52-year-old leading scientist who advises the government, behaves like a 17-year-old ingenue with almost no insight into other people's behaviour and motivations. It's just impossible to care what happens to her as she's so unbelievable. The array of great reviews from other writers and newspaper reviewers can only be attributed to the writer's contacts - she's a journalist by trade.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What If, 13 Feb. 2014
By 
prisrob "pris," (New England USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Apple Tree Yard (Kindle Edition)
What if you fell violently in lust with a stranger and had an affair. What if this turned into something obsessive? What if you made the wrong choices? Dr Yvonne Carmichael , an eminent scientist, married with children, respected and well liked, falls into these 'what ifs', and brings us along with her.

We meet her as she is sitting in the witness chair, at the Queen's Court, staring at someone who is or was her lover, being questioned by the opposing counsel. She tells her story as if she is talking to her lover, and we go with her on this journey. Her life was not without troubles, a son with mental illness, a husband who goes astray, but this affair was most unlike this woman. She was the one who held their lives together. What about her could cause the sort of difficulty she now shares with her lover.

For some reason her life has slipped out of control. She starts to examine her life, with us in tow. What kind of choices did she make to put her in this position? What can she do to manage her life. As we learn more about this woman, we travel the road, and the psychological darkness becomes overpowering. The violence and the aftermath are now apparent, and as we try to make sense of what occurred, we wonder how this came about. We see and hear the opposing counsel as she brings us down the path of destruction.

This is a fascinating story of love, lust and obsession gone wrong. A story to ponder. The writing is beautifully wrought, and keeps us so intent upon understanding that soon we are unable to put the book down. Well done!

Recommended. prisrob 02-13-14
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fish-hook, line and sinker!, 26 July 2013
By 
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This review is from: Apple Tree Yard (Hardcover)
This was a superb piece of writing; an edge of the seat courtroom drama with twists and turns of back-story, believable and necessary blind alleys and secrecy, and lots of dark undercurrents about relationships between the sexes, the casual violence and patronisation even other women can offer to each other.

There is little which can be usefully laid out in a review without spoiling the reader's journey. All I will say is that it took quite a long time for me to really realise why the central character was in that court as a defendant in a murder trial. None of Doughty's journey red-herrings were at all spurious, and the various shocks she offers are absolutely tight, believable and coherent.

Several reviewers have compared her grasp of believable psychological twisting of the reader, unfurling of character and plot, to Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell in darker, more disturbing psychological mode) For once, such an admiring comparison is accurate.

I've been disappointed recently in several sub-psychological crime/thrillers, but recommend this highly. Doughty does not manipulate any of her characters in an unbelievable way.

As long as you accept the premise that the madness of love and lust can strike any of us and make us go places which are surprising, all the rest follows

I like the elegant structure of the book which in the major sections, connects to the work of the central character, a geneticist, and how what is hidden, twisted, subterranean in the journey of the novel echoes that double helix.

This is a perfect summer (or winter holiday) read, but also leaves you thinking.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, angry, must-read for women and men, 12 Feb. 2014
By 
Love Books "Jessie" (Durham, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Apple Tree Yard (Paperback)
This is an incredible book: a fantastic story, an absolutely gripping read, and a furious indictment of the way women are treated by the law and the courts. I can't praise it highly enough.

Louise Doughty is absolutely brilliant at creating tension and suspense. The story starts with a woman who is in court, obviously on trial with her lover for a very serious offence but we don't know what they're supposed to have done or why, or any details at all. The story is revealed bit by bit and it makes for compulsive reading. The details of the workings of parliaments, universities and the courts are fantastically detailed, as are the workings of the human mind.

However what will stay with me most from this book is the fury the author clearly feels (and so will every person who reads this) about the way women are humiliated, bullied, exposed and mentally assaulted by the legal system when they either instigate, or are unlucky enough to be called as witnesses, in cases where sex is involved. And this is without once mentioning the further humiliation and shame likely to be heaped on them by the press. That and the horrendous anecdote about the chimpanzees and the heated floor...

This is a staggeringly good book. It's a great story. It's amazing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The positives - I like the writing, 6 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Apple Tree Yard (Kindle Edition)
The positives - I like the writing. The "you" in the book is Yvonne Carmichael's lover and although some reviewers complain about the presentation of the affair, I thought it was well done. But can something else happen around page 200?

The negatives - the main character is a terrible whinge. Whilst these women do exist, I would have thought for fiction we could have had some sort of development beyond the simplistic moaning, rehashing and repetitive complaining about pretty much everything. I guess this would be somewhat of a novelty for a woman in a bad marriage but I was expecting an upswing in plot. Unfortunately as someone with legal experience the courtroom shenanigans were well researched but of more interest to the author (and possibly other readers) - to me it was boring. There was too much unresolved and very little use made of the adversarial system to expose truths - and lies. It would have been a credible way to give the plot something more interesting to hang on. I have no idea what the attempted "twist" on the last page was because it simply didn't make any sense whatsoever to me. I guess that's the "psychological" thriller part? As a legal thriller it fails also, I'm afraid. two stars for engaging writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars not my usual type of book but a good story well written and compelling, 1 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Apple Tree Yard (Kindle Edition)
It was well researched and felt very real, although the events were extraordinary.
She wrote it in such a way that I could understand why a rather ordinary man could feel compelled to
Create a fantasy other life and why he would choose such a successful and apparently un available woman to be his
Companion and accomplice.
I have worked in the courts in my professional career and I am impressed at the way she conveyed the feeling of being onto either side .
I have also seen the way lawyers work and know how they spin their stories to suit their own purposes. It was all very realistic and yet not boring,which real court cases often are.
I think this book would appeal to men and women and to anyone interested in human psychology and relationships. Their Are always reasons why we do the things we do and without being heavy handed, this is shown by unravelling what extraordinary things happened to two very ordinary people when they decided to step out of their everyday lives. It is a great recommendation for monogamy! And for simplicity and for honesty.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars it has lots of recommendations including Ian Rankin who is one of my favourite authors, so I made sure that I saved ..., 4 July 2014
By 
Sandra Foy "Sandra" (Manchester) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Apple Tree Yard (Paperback)
*SPOILERS* There are spoilers in the following review.

I was really looking forward to reading this book, it has lots of recommendations including Ian Rankin who is one of my favourite authors, so I made sure that I saved it for when I had no distractions and the time to savour and enjoy. Unfortunately the book was a total let down.

The narrator, Yvonne Carmichael, a 52yrs old scientist at the peak of her career embarks on an affair, I use the term very loosely as it consists of meeting in coffee shops then having sex in back alleys. The entire affair on both sides just beggars belief. He tells her absolutely nothing; he takes her nowhere; he doesn't even offer to get them a room. And yet we are expected to believe that this 52yrs old, highly intelligent woman, believes this man to be in love with her. I think possibly the worst part of the book, is where, with no encouragement from Mark (the lover), she decides that he is a spy!! There cannot be one person who read that and thought it likely.

The woman is unlikeable, unbelievable, delusional and has no credibility whatsoever. I presume that was the author's intent, to show how people's emotions overtake them to to the detriment of everything else. But you must have some basis in reality and this story did not. I lost the will to live.

Mark's perspective was just as bad, here is a serial adulterer who, we are asked to believe, is prepared to commit the worst crime known to man for a woman who he has sex with on occasion in a back alley.

On a positive note the rape scene is well depicted and quite harrowing. It is a pity it is enmeshed in the rest of this story. The trial scenes are interesting and well researched. But the plot just goes from bad to worse. The explanation for Mark's actions is no more than cod-psychology and the verdict is laughable. How a man who takes and uses a change of clothes to a crime scene can get his sentence reduced from premeditated murder to manslaughter, I have no idea. Perhaps someone could enlighten me.

The 'twist', as some people have referred to it, on the last page is no twist at all. It is totally predictable and the only thing left to happen.

I don't particularly like giving poor reviews, but this book has barely anything to recommend it. While the prose is fine and the court scenes well described, the plot is ludicrous in my opinion. But there are, at this moment in time, nearly 400 Amazon reviews that say I am wrong. They all give the book 5 stars, meaning that they believe it is one of the best books ever written. They can't all be wrong: can they?
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Apple Tree Yard
Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty (Paperback - 2 Jan. 2014)
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