Apple Tree Yard was advertised pretty heavily on train stations over last Christmas and the following few months, so it was always in the back of my mind, along with a few other books, including The Husband’s Secret. It took me far longer to read Apple Tree Yard though, and even longer still to review it.
Yet here I am, in early December, finally getting around to it.
Safety and security are commodities you can sell in return for excitement, but you can never buy them back.
Yvonne Carmichael is a geneticist, a scientist renowned in her field but one day, she makes the most irrational of decisions. While she is giving evidence to a Select Committee at the Houses of Parliament, she meets a man and has sex with him in the secluded Chapel in the Crypt. It’s the beginning of a reckless liaison, but there is more to her lover than is at first apparent – as Yvonne discovers when the affair spins out of control and leads inexorably to violence.
Apple Tree Yard is about a woman who makes one rash choice that ends up putting her on trial at the Old Bailey for the most serious of crimes. Like the highly acclaimed Whatever You Love, it is part literary investigation of personal morality, part psychological thriller.
I was really excited to read Apple Tree Yard – having read the blurb, I thought it would be a thrilling and gripping read about how affairs can go wrong, the terrible consequences of straying outside of your marriage and all that kind of thing – I really was expecting an investigation of the relationship between Yvonne, her husband, and her lover. But from the beginning, that wasn’t what I got.
Apple Tree Yard was, at times, really compelling, but it introduced too many players and too many strands to the story, having to deal with multiple relationships and not really convincing me of the substance of any of them.
I did enjoy Apple Tree Yard, but it was straddling the divide between investigation of the morality of the main character and the violence of a murder mystery – and uncomfortably at that.
Apple Tree Yard was sort of a jack of all trades of a novel, and in the end it finished as quite a forgettable entry in a long list of books I’ve read this year. There’s not really anything memorable in it, which might explain why it’s taken me so long to review it.
I was disappointed, because it could’ve been so much more.