Review of ‘Apple Tree Yard’ by Louise Doughty

Image This novel is written in an interesting style, with the main character, Yvonne, addressing her lover, Mark, as if writing one long letter (present-tense) retelling the history of their relationship, an extra-marital affair which goes very wrong.

The prologue, a flash-forward to the tense courtroom scene which comes towards the conclusion of the novel, is very tantalising and made me want to read on.

However, the main section of the book is less exciting. For me, although the plot was interesting, the characters and their relationships did not ring true.

Maybe I am a prude, but for me there was no difference between the first time Yvonne has sex with Mark in a crypt a few minutes after they first meet without even knowing each others’ names and the rape which she is victim of later in the book at the hands of her colleague George. Both men are sexual predators, one is just more suave, subtle and manipulative about the way he goes about it. How Yvonne could convince herself she was in love with Mark astonished me, they did not have any intellectual connection, only physical, she knows nothing about him. She is supposed to be an intelligent woman but throughout the novel she just appears naive, even to the extent that she is still worried about Mark’s welfare at the end of the novel when he has obviously instructed his lawyer to throw her under the bus.

I did not like her or any of the other characters. Her husband’s character was paper-thin, I got no sense that they actually cared for each other yet they stayed together even after they have both had affairs and she has been to jail.

The ending confounded me, was the last page an indication that Yvonne is a completely unreliable narrator and she did actually provoke Mark to kill George, or was it just a fantasy? By that point I didn’t care enough about this stupid careless woman to give it much thought.

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