After reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – a big book by anyone’s standards – I vowed that the next novel I read would be a quicker read; and one that didn’t result in back ache from lugging its weight around. Thus, I chose Apple Tree Yard, a thriller by Louise Doughty generating much praise on Twitter.
The story begins when Yvonne Carmichael, an eminent geneticist in her early 50s, has a chance sexual encounter with a mysterious stranger in the House of Commons when she is there to give evidence to a parliamentary select committee. The prologue warns the reader how the affair will end – with the central character cross-examined in the dock of the Old Bailey as an accessory to murder – and the tale follows Yvonne as her life begins to unravel.
An angry undertone is evident throughout the novel as themes of violence against women, gender inequality and the consequences of a single drunken mistake are woven together to create the undoing of a happily married middle-aged woman.
The initial suspense the prologue affords Doughty is maintained throughout the novel, which is both cogent and eloquently written. The finest kind of page turner, Apple Tree Yard will have you gripped from start to finish.