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Apple Tree Yard
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on 22 May 2017
Intriguing story, if a little anti-climatic.

Yvonne Carmichael, educated, married, mother with a successful career gets caught up with the 'mundane' events of her daily life, until one chance encounter takes her on a very different out of character journey.

Was it the fact that she was made to feel special? valued for who she was, as a woman, or was it the thrill of doing something so out of the ordinary?

She embarks on a clandestine relationship, although she is still her! no outward changes she still goes about her daily life, work, home, kids! But whilst holding onto a secret.

The one fateful evening, begins the start of the demise with a colleague, who takes the utmost liberty with her in her drunken state and so the events start to change and have an impact. She confides in her lover, that than her long-standing husband, where a plan of sorts is devised.

Life has an odd way of making things fell 'normal' only to find out things happen in life for reasons, sometimes unknown.

Did the colleague deserve his outcome? Probably not, but then he would have never left her alone, and become to be more of a monster than he already was. He had a very sinister attitude about him.

The Lover, a seemingly nice chap, but with both hidden secrets and agenda's. I do think he had very deep feelings for Yvonne, but was more excited with keeping the two worlds separate.

I felt there was more to him than we got, maybe a sequel focusing around him, with maybe his thoughts whilst away from her!
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on 13 April 2014
3 stars for plot, 4 stars for writing. A literary slow-boiler, this novel examines the consequences of infidelity in a humane and non-judgemental way, which only makes it more chilling for the logical and methodical way the plot unfolds.

Yvonne Carmichael, a middle-aged established geneticist, who is cresting on the wave of her reputation earned by her early research, and comfortably settled into her marriage, despite going through an empty nest phase where her grown children have left home, seems to have her life all in place - as much as the circumstances allow. However, she meets an attractive stranger and is irresistibly drawn into a risky affair against her better judgement.

In the hands of a less able author, the novel could have fallen into the miry pit of pulpy, erotic thrillers, but Doughty, with the gift of her subtle storytelling, manages to turn this into a psychological examination of the darker motives of perfectly ordinary, and presumably morally responsible adults. The narration is engaging in the way it is doled out in the 2nd-person, which gives it a direct and appealing tone, thus making it easier to establish reader empathy with Yvonne, even though she is not addressing the reader, but her lover (surreptitiously) in a series of unsent correspondences tucked in the recesses of her document folders on her home office computer. This gives the narrative an immediacy but also puts the reader in the position of a voyeur, and one can't help but feel incriminated in the confessional mode of the narrative, a rather interesting technique for a thriller, where some form of omniscience is normally expected.

Besides the unusual narrative technique, Doughty also explores difficult issues head-on: Can true love really evolve from an illicit relationship, and if so, what is its tipping point? Is it different for men and women? What constitutes betrayal, and at what point does self-preservation override the need to protect a loved one? There are no easy answers, but "Apple Tree Yard" does a fine job of forcing you to look deeper into the inscrutable and sometimes illogical human heart.
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on 15 August 2014
This is easily the best book that I have read this year, by a mile - it's engaging and thrilling, with plenty of twists and turns. When I first started reading it, I wondered why it began with a court scene where the defendant was obviously guilty, but surely the writer would not give the game away at the very beginning ...Absolutely not, and, even if you speculate as to who might have killed whom, you will not be in any way prepared for the eventual denouement. This is a thriller of spectacular proportions, well planned and superbly executed, with the psychological profile of the main characters very well defined. My only quibble about the story is the fact that the narrator's husband does not question her in any detail about her affair, which, to me, is not very realistic; considering the awful situation that her actions have resulted in, I cannot bring myself to believe that any husband would be that understanding. I would have wanted the relationship between the spouses to have been explored more fully. That said, it was still a brilliantly-written novel, worthy of five stars, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is searching for their next good read.
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on 17 March 2017
I loved the way the story was presented as a secret letter to a secret lover; very original. It made me feel like I was a voyeur on the most private thoughts of the main character, who I found myself alternately sympathising and then castigating.
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on 6 October 2014
I bought this book on recommendation and after reading all the great reviews, and I really enjoyed it. One morning, Yvonne Carmichael, a successful scientist, married, early 50s, grown up kids, swaps her ordinary life for one of excitement by seizing the opportunity to begin a passionate affair with a man she meets by chance. But this exciting liaison with this stranger comes with a high price and consequences.

The story opens with Yvonne in a dock, so we know right away that a crime has been committed. A few chapters in and I was hooked, wanting to find out more about Yvonne’s sexual liaisons with her lover Mark Costley and how they ended up in a courtroom.

The entire novel is told via Yvonne’s viewpoint as she addresses her lover, which was quite fascinating. I found its London setting very atmospheric and I could appreciate how much extensive research was done to inject life into the story, particularly the courtroom drama scenes.

A read that I eased into and a little dark in places, I thought it was a plausible story with plenty of suspense to hold my attention. There are a couple of decent twists too and a good final twist on the last page, which I loved.

If I had to sum up Apple Tree Yard in two words they'd be ‘quality writing.’

A brilliant read.
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on 20 February 2017
I bought this AFTER watching the TV show mainly down to the fact Emily Watson is such an incredible actress and I was intrigued to see if this could be an indication that the book would be riveting also. It was. Some people complain its soooooo slooowww but really, the pace is set for a reason if it went to fast you might miss out on some of the good bits;and there are loads of them. I went away thinking "well, I never....." when I got to the end of the book and I'm sure whoever reads it will too, won't say why as don't want to spoil anything for the reader but, suffice to say, it's not what you were expecting.
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on 3 May 2016
This story was quite good but for me there was way too much description and not enough dialogue. It made it drag on for me and I wasn't in a great rush to pick it up again. I'll probably try another by her, though.
I didn't have a lot of time for our heroine.....I thought her behaviour pretty appalling at times. I did like how the author teased us with knowing no names at all and gave little hints all the way through of what was to ensue. That was cleverly done. There were a couple of shocking instances too where my jaw hit the floor.
It wasn't without mistakes...annoyingly each time she mentioned the Ladies' she dropped the apostrophe. There was a rogue hyphen in "not-doing this right now" and a few sentences had missing words like the or are or a . Dessert was spelt as desert, some used and not someone and other was used where I'd have used otherwordly.
She mentions being a poor sleeper just after telling us the opposite a couple of pages before !! At one point she describes a moist brown carpet which I found bizarre in the extreme.
There were some very funny, self-effacing comments in it throughout. I liked this passage too-"DNA is one of the few discoveries of humankind that mean there's no point in being a liar".
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on 29 January 2016
This is not the type of crime fiction I normally read at all, but I was drawn by the CWA shortlisting and reviews and I was not disappointed at all.

This tale starts out feeling like a mix of slightly seedy, slightly self indulgent narration, but it is such a skilful and sensitive and heart splitting honest insight into a woman accused that I genuinely cannot speak highly enough of this author.

We all want a story to affect us, however this may be, however it is presented to us, and this has affected me more deeply than any story has in quite some time.

In short, my review is read this book. You won't be disappointed.
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on 22 March 2017
I'm glad I didn't watch this on TV. A picture is worth a thousand words, so it is said, but can't tell you what the characters are thinking or why they do what they do. This book takes every line to rack up the tension and the last page is breathtaking. Brilliant. Unputdownable. Recommended.
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on 7 April 2014
Yvonne is a high-flying geneticist who is married to a fellow scientist. She has a lovely house and two grown up children. One day she meets a stranger at an event and such is the attraction that they have sex outside and there grows an affair. Her husband has had a couple of affairs and so it doesn't seem so bad even though her forbidden passion is not an affair of the heart, more like lust. The new man has such a job that he meets her briefly, gives her a secret phone and likes quick sex outside. A relationship is out of the question. Feelings are out of the question.

Then something horrible happens to Yvonne and events take over that lead Yvonne to court and then jail - we know this from the beginning but we get to see it happen and her life unravel.

I enjoyed this novel hugely. It's a crime novel but one that defies normal genre restrictions and feels like a real drama, a real possibility. I felt for Yvonne hugely but I also felt she had been incredibly naive and stupid (for want of a better word). Apple Tree Yard certainly gives you more to think about than your run-of-the-mill crime paperback.
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