Apple Tree Yard

by Louise Doughty

Yvonne Carmichael has a successful career and a loving family but one day she impulsively embarks on a relationship with a stranger. Convinced that she can keep her lives separate, she continues with increasingly risky rendezvous. Then something happens which is completely out of her control and which threatens to destroy everything.

This is a stunning book which was recommended to me by two authors, Deborah Moggach and Margaret Drabble, when they came to Woodbridge to promote their own books last year. I was naturally intrigued, and it didn't disappoint. Now I find that it has been included on Richard and Judy's list, and I think it will achieve huge sales proving as gripping as 'Room' by Emma Donohue, or 'Before I Go To Sleep' by SJ Watson.

The narrative is perfectly pitched. I didn't want to read about this woman's affair; how she so casually dismissed her loving husband and grown-up children as she started her rather sordid affair. However, Yvonne is a sympathetic character and her liaisons are described sensitively. Of course, all the way through the book, we know that she is heading for a catastrophe - she is telling us about the relationship with the knowledge of the ultimate outcome, which we are desperate to learn about.

The conclusion is not disappointing, though is bound to prompt a lively book club debate. No matter what we think about Yvonne's decisions, we can appreciate the horror of being trapped in a sequence of events over which you have no control and which look set to destroy you. The understated account conveys the numbness of descending into a nightmare.

Review date: January 2014
Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty