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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hive
St Ambrose Primary school, where one of the mothers - Bea Stuart - appears to be queen bee. The school has a new headmaster, Tom Orchard, who wants to raise enough money to convert some disused buildings into a new library for the school. Bea and the other mothers immediately go into fund raising mode.

The book follows the twists and turns in the relationships...
Published 5 months ago by Damaskcat

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bit too chick lit characters needed more depth and realism
Think that the publishers might have wanted this light weight first novel to appeal to a wider audience. Was expecting more complex characters and realistic plot. Not sure the pin up headmaster really worked.
Published 7 months ago by S. Page


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bit too chick lit characters needed more depth and realism, 19 Sep 2013
By 
S. Page "SusiePG" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Hive (Kindle Edition)
Think that the publishers might have wanted this light weight first novel to appeal to a wider audience. Was expecting more complex characters and realistic plot. Not sure the pin up headmaster really worked.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars At the school gates, 30 Oct 2013
By 
book fan (west yorkshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Hive (Hardcover)
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There has been a big hype about this book which is about the mums of St. Ambrose Primary School and all their friendships and fall outs. Leading the pack of mums is Bea 'Queen Bee' of the Hive, this novel is loosely based on how an actual beehive works, Heather who is an insecure person with a puppy dog like tendency to offer to do anything just to be belong, Georgie with her numerous kids and counting who really doesn't give a fig for much of the playground politics and Rachel who was once Bea's close friend but has now been shoved on to the sidelines. Various other mums circulate around these main characters, mostly willing to do whatever Bea wishes just be her friend. Bea is appointed the one in charge of organizing events to raise funds for a new school library. So she has them all working their socks off with arrangements for car boot sales, lunch ladders etc while she does hardly a thing but bask in the reflected glory. There is not a lot else going on this novel except for a little bit of school bullying from Bea's catty daughter Scarlett, which never seems to be resolved with any satisfaction and a tiny bit of romance for Rachel who is separated from her husband at the start of this book. The Hive is touted as being a brilliant, wickedly funny novel but I think it falls far short of that, it it does have the occasional slightly amusing observation on life at the school gates but nothing special. This is a passable time filler only.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointing, 24 Sep 2013
This review is from: The Hive (Hardcover)
Like so many on here, I fell for the hype. The moral is, don't believe reviews in magazines, the publishers have probably placed an advert and the Hornby clan is a powerful one. Bits of this book made me smile, but most of it was beyond credible. None of the characters were likable. I especially had a problem with earth-mother Georgie, the way she was bitchy and critical of the rest of the group and so intensely smug about her own "raucous" family. Melissa had no personality whatsoever, or seeming motivation to want to be "queen bee". Poor Bubba, whose name I forget, whose son had special needs is mocked for not recognising this. Rachel wafts around, seeming extraordinarily unbothered about her marriage break down. School playgrounds aren't like this - yes, there are mothers you like more than others, and gangs of good friends, but it's a far more organic process, rather than a studied exercise in social climbing and ostracising. Women are nicer, funnier, more interesting and more complex than this book would have you believe. Good luck, whoever's bought the film rights, because you'll struggle to find a return on that investment.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very lightweight, 29 July 2013
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This review is from: The Hive (Hardcover)
I too fell for the hype and although I haven't abandoned the book yet, in my opinion it is not deserving of all the publicity it's getting. The story is told through the voices of a variety of thinly-sketched characters, the main one being Rachel who is barely credible. Despite being dumped by her husband during the summer holiday, she obsesses about her friendship with 'Queen' Bea far more than she appears to consider her precarious finances, her hurt ego or the impact of the split on her children. We are clearly supposed to identify with this character and with the slovenly but happy Georgie, who largely eschews the PTA group in favour of her boisterous family. The author's view is clear; avoid the successful, popular and cruel types you will meet in any playground - the place to be is at the edge of the group, looking within it and sniggering.
The writing is clumsy; at one point Rachel visits a beehive for no very good reason other than for the author to get bees in somewhere and the name of the 'Queen' - Bea, is about as subtle as this novel gets. The world is breathlessly insular and middle-class with wealth being ridiculed and yet revered at the same time. 'Bubba' does not refer to her lake as a 'lake' out of modesty, yet she is lampooned for her money and her inability to undertake anything approaching work. On the other hand, Rachel, who is supposed to be a hard-working artist, seems to do little more than attend lunches and frequent cafes. Bubba is ridiculed for her reliance on her Polish au pair, yet we are supposed to admire Georgie for sacking hers, even though the result is a messy, dirty home, and we are meant to be reassured by the notion that although Georgie could afford to employ 'help', she chose not to. I'm not sure the writer has really thought through her views on wealth and on women in work. Jo works hard but hates it and is poorly paid. Georgie's work is helping out with her family and even here, the family is a success by default, not really through her exertions. Rachel is meant to work, but never seems to and earns little. So where is the vast wealth of this community, with its 4x4 cars, flashy houses and so on coming from?
I didn't find the novel very funny and in places the author is quite as cruel as the vile Bea. While Heather is ridiculous for wanting to be 'in with the in crowd', her character is generous and thoughtful, and her downright loneliness cries out to the reader, so I don't understand why she is made to look such a fool. Overall, the novel is full of silly, mindless cliches; men are absent or vaguely drawn stock figures; the jilting husband who uses his children as pawns, the doltish Headmaster who can't organise anything, but is quite 'hot' and so on. Although the novel is about a school community, children are nothing more than recognisable cliches.
St Ambrose's is maybe a microcosm of some parts of English society; a place that takes itself very seriously, that does not consider what it is doing to others, that both loves and despises money and where women give the best years of their lives over to banality and stupidity, while men get on with running the real world. In this place, women purport to undertake charitable acts to benefit the wider community, but it is clearly all about getting in with a group. This is totally mindless and women deserve better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great potential but falls short, 9 April 2014
By 
Julia Flyte - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Hive (Hardcover)
This is a semi-satirical novel about mums at a small primary school and about the way they revolve around the "queen bee" who runs the fundraising committee. We focus on a core group of 5 or 6 mums who all have their own place in the social standing: inside the clique, desperate to join the clique or immune to the clique. The story follows a school year as they go through their own individual dramas and the pecking order at school gets shuffled.

If anyone should have liked this book, it would be me, because I am highly involved in my children's primary school. I also think that it's a topic that's crying out for a novel. There was a recent article in Boston Magazine entitled "The Terrifyingly Nasty, Backstabbing, and Altogether Miserable World of the Suburban Mom" (you can find it on line) which shows how real and hurtful these kind of dramas are. But this book just doesn't work. We don't care about any of the characters, we don't explore any feelings in depth and the "queen bee" is so simplistically lazy and selfish that it's virtually impossible to believe that everyone wouldn't see through her.

Plus the "bee" metaphors drove me crazy. The analogy is clever but it gets rammed home again and again. Naming character like Bea and Clover and Heather. Naming the school after the patron saint of bees. Frequent lectures from Rachel's Mum about how beehives work. Enough! I get it!

While there are amusing moments here and there, it's overall a tedious read. A friend described it to me as like "Fifty Shades of Grey without the sex".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Hive, 8 Nov 2013
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Hive (Hardcover)
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This novel takes a group of parents at St Ambrose Church Primary School and looks at the way their lives interact and change over a school year. There is Rachel, whose husband has just left her, queen bee, Beatrice Stuart, who organises virtually every event and holds court in the playground, desperate wannabee Heather, who longs to be accepted by Bea's clique, smart and funny Georgie and new parents Bubba and Melissa. The school also has a new headmaster, handsome Mr Orchard, who becomes the focus of interest for some of the mothers.

Much of this novel, and these characters, are stereotypes, of course, but I would guess that most mothers at the school gate will know people who vaguely correspond to these types. It will be a year of tragedy, changing allegiances, the organised chaos of car boot and cake sales, bullying, rejection and romance. It is Rachel's mother who has bee hives and the analogy between the hive and Bea Stuart can feel a little overdone. However, despite the shortcomings of the plot and the limitations of some characters, there is much to like in this novel. I enjoyed seeing how the course of the year changed the lives of those associated with the school and I particularly liked both Rachel and the permanently pregnant Georgie. Her deep love for her children was one of the most believable part of the whole book for me, as she tried to steer clear of involvement, but was always dragged in against her will.

This novel does not, thankfully, read like chick lit, but it could have been improved by a little more depth to the characters on the periphery of the plot, and you often wanted to shake Heather or ask yourself whether anyone would really have been taken in by the shallow and self centred Bea. An enjoyable, but light read, which will resonate especially with mothers who soon realise that the boardroom is nowhere near as complicated as playground politics...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hive, 31 Oct 2013
By 
Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Hive (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
St Ambrose Primary school, where one of the mothers - Bea Stuart - appears to be queen bee. The school has a new headmaster, Tom Orchard, who wants to raise enough money to convert some disused buildings into a new library for the school. Bea and the other mothers immediately go into fund raising mode.

The book follows the twists and turns in the relationships between the mothers - Bea herself, newly single mother Rachel, Heather who really wants to be part of the in-crowd but is somehow always on the edge, earth mother, Georgie who really doesn't care about the in crowd and two newcomers - Melissa and Bubba.

By the end of the school year many things will have changed and alliances will have been forged and broken. I really enjoyed this book and it is a tribute to the author that she kept me hooked even though I do not have children and have never been one of the people collecting children from the school gates.

The bee symbolism may annoy some as it is there in so many aspects of this story but it is well done and not too contrived. I liked the writing style and loved the characters - good and bad. I have met these people in real life and in different contexts. There are organisers and also-rans and the people who will do anything just to be involved. Then there are the outsiders and the newcomers who may or may not manage to fit in.

It is difficult to do justice to this book in a review because there is just so much in it. Don't be put off reading it if you don't have children - you will still recognise these people. There are many witty one liners and descriptions which had me chuckling on several occasions. This book is neither chick lit nor Aga saga and it will appeal to anyone who loves people watching. There are some very dark elements running along under the surface which may make the reader think about the way they behave in a group. I shall be watching for the next book by this author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ahead of the game in 'school gate lit', 3 Sep 2013
By 
CatherineMT (Twyford, Berkshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Hive (Hardcover)
Funny, sarcastic, and definitely the best of the bunch in 'school gate lit'. Really enjoyed reading it and would recommend to others.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Campy fun (just don't take it too seriously), 2 Sep 2013
By 
Benjamin J. Whitehouse "Book geek" (Wrexham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Hive (Hardcover)
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Reading the blurb of the book I get the distinct feeling I'm not meant to be the target audience. I feel like this is being marketed to the people that like Fifty Shades. To some extent this is true but I'm glad I read The Hive.

The Hive feels like it has been based on the same advice book that Mean Girls was based on (Queen Bees and Wannabes, a self-help book by Rosalind Wiseman). The novel captures perfectly the conversations between women whose lives are entirely consumed by their children and the friends of their children and the mothers of the friends of their children. This isn't a world I inhabit but it's a world that Hornby has skewered and pinned down. Cringe as much as you want but these conversations sound like they've been torn from real conversations from coffee shops across London and the UK. Thoroughly enjoyable!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok holiday read, 30 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Hive (Kindle Edition)
This was a mildly entertaining holiday read about a group of mums at a school. There were elements that you may recognise from the school gates, it was perfectly entertaining and I quite enjoyed it.
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The Hive by Gill Hornby
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