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The Hive Paperback – 23 May 2013

3.0 out of 5 stars 165 customer reviews

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Paperback, 23 May 2013
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (23 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408704366
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408704363
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 2.4 x 23.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,098,903 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


An acute, funny and sometimes scary comedy of manners . . . the literary debut of the year (The Times)

Clever and witty . . . through the minutiae of school-gate politics, Hornby skewers human nature with the sharpness of a parliamentary sketch writer . . . Anyone who has ever found themselves picked last for games or not invited for lunch will shudder with recognition . . . subtle and insightful (Sunday Times)

Genuinely charming (Guardian)

Uproariously funny . . . There's jealousy, despair, hope, fury, smugness and disappointment all crammed exhilaratingly together . . . [and] a beautifully constrained love interest (Angela Huth Spectator)

The jokes are funny, the sad bits are sad and the tone strikes just the right mix of satire and affection. The result is a rich slice of literary entertainment (Daily Mail)

With a wicked eye and a giant heart, Gill Hornby weaves a lively and hilarious tale that's pure fun. If you loved BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY . . . THE HIVE is the book for you (Maria Semple, Author of WHERE'D YOU GO, BERNADETTE?) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Welcome to St Ambrose Primary School. A world of friendships, fights and feuding. And that's just the mothers...

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I thought the Amazon reviews were more entertaining than the book in some ways. It was noticeable that the 5-star reviews were almost all very short and seemed to have been dashed off with little thought, while the more critical ones showed a depth the more gushing ones lacked.

I found it hard to assign a star rating. i thought the basic structure of the book was quite brilliant. I did not agree with reviewers who said the book has no plot. The plot is hung on the idea of a group of parents - Mums only, in fact - raising funds for a new library for their primary school. I loved the idea of splitting the chapters into the drop-off and pick-up times, with the various events tucked in between. This very accurately reflects how rigidly a young mother's day is organized. The events picked were all very realistic in my opinion, very inventive and effective fund-raisers, albeit in a clearly prosperous home counties suburb.

So far, so good. But I'm afraid there were too many negatives. How many times does the word 'arse' appear? Far, far too many! It's not a word I associate with middle-class women, anyway. Such a limited vocabulary becomes very tedious. The conversations and arguments are not well done. I believe it is very rare for people like this to have direct cat-fights. In my experience, nasty things and barbed comments are almost always made behind people's backs, while they remain quite sugary in person to person contact. Georgie's rudeness at times makes her seem like someone with Aspergers, or Tourettes.

I agree with critics who felt the characters were not differentiated enough, and not particularly likeable. I am surprised more people have not mentioned Melissa, who seems to be placed on a pedestal for worship by all, including the reader!
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Format: Paperback
I thought that I was really going to enjoy this book, it sounded right up my street. Unfortunately I was left feeling disappointed.

This is a story about mums and children at a primary school and how the author compares hierarchy and social standing of these mums to bees in a hive.

For me there were just too many characters introduced too quickly and the author did not give them any depth; I struggled to remember who they were and their place in the novel and this did not improve overtime. The way the author chose to switch from one to the other also added to the confusion so there were parts in the story where I had to go back and re-read pages as I didn't have a clue who I was meant to be reading about.

The pace was slow and dialogue contrived, none of the characters seemed believable and the plot (though difficult to identify this until mid way through the book) seemed to be disjointed in places and veered off the point so much so that I lost interest and it was difficult to make the effort to finish the book.

There were flashes of humour and clearly Gill Hornby has good powers of observation which did come across in the book but the whole story seemed flat, pointless, disappointing and I struggled to remember what was happening each time I picked it up to continue reading. Would it have been better to read in one sitting? Not sure, possibly, but how many people can read a book cover to cover in one sitting? The author has to remember that people can't do this and the story has to be memorable and engaging enough to make a reader want to finish it - this book didn't do this for me.

The many references to bees was also a little tedious - Bea being the self appointed Queen at the start of the novel, Clover and Heather, etc.
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Format: 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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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