Apple Tree Yard
Yvonne Carmichael has worked hard to achieve the life she always wanted: a high-flying career in genetics, a beautiful home, a good relationship with her husband and their two grown-up children. Then one day she meets a stranger at the Houses of Parliament and, on impulse, begins a passionate affair with him – a decision that will put everything she values at risk.
At first she believes she can keep the relationship separate from the rest of her life, but she can’t control what happens next. All of her careful plans spiral into greater deceit and, eventually, a life-changing act of violence.
Apple Tree Yard is both a psychological thriller and an insightful examination of the values we all live by and the choices we make, from an acclaimed writer at the height of her powers.
‘There can’t be a woman alive who hasn’t once realised, in a moment of panic, that she’s in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong man. Louise Doughty, more sure-footed with each novel, leads her unnerved reader into dark territory. A compelling and bravely-written book.’
Apple Tree Yard is out now from Faber & Faber UK. The US edition is published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Sarah Crichton Books in hardback and Picador paperback.
Rights have also been sold in Bulgaria, Brazil, Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Estonia, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Korea, Latvia, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Syria, Taiwan, Turkey.
An unabridged audio book version, read by Juliet Stevenson, is out now from Faber & Faber.
TV rights were sold to Kudos Productions by Rebecca Watson at Valerie Hoskins Associates Ltd on behalf of Antony Harwood Ltd. A four-part adaptation starring Emily Watson as Yvonne Carmichael is currently in post-production and due to be broadcast on BBC1 later this year.
Reviews so far…
‘Doughty writes with consummate pacing and psychological acuity, bringing fresh force to a common regret of adulterous lovers’ The New Yorker
‘At the start of Louise Doughty’s taut and psychologically persuasive novel we find [Yvonne] taking the witness stand at the Old Bailey, accused of complicity in a violent crime and about to be exposed in a highly damaging and compromising lie…this is a novel that explores the ease with which we can stray off our safe, familiar paths and become addicted to the stories we tell about ourselves. A disquieting, perceptive and gripping read.’ Daily Mail
‘Doughty’s achievement is to imagine a horribly mundane tragedy – the kind that could happen to anyone, but a tragedy nonetheless… it gives nothing away to state that the comprehensiveness of [Yvonne’s] public disgrace is harrowingly well-realised… the trial itself is a masterful piece of evasion and selective disclosure… a compelling cautionary tale of what happens when fantasy begins to occlude real life. ‘The trouble with stories is, they are addictive,’ Doughty states. In this case, she may never have written a truer word.’ The Guardian
‘The adult ambiguities Doughty unravels in smooth, sinuous prose lead to two shocking yet credible final revelations. Brooding, emotionally complex and powerful.’ Kirkus Review
‘Apple Tree Yard is very, very good…’ Chicago Herald Tribune.
‘Louise Doughty has written a gripping thriller that calls our own thoughts on morality into question and is impossible to put down. Intelligent and captivating, Apple Tree Yard makes you realise how one bad decision can change the course of your life forever.’
Stylist Magazine, Top Ten Must-Reads for June
‘Doughty controls the progress of this narrative beautifully, parsing out information with tantalising hints at what is to come… Apple Tree Yard is a chilling novel, in part because of the unsparing light it shines on our ability to deceive ourselves. Doughty has a particular gift for unsettling stories, for making us ask difficult questions of ourselves, and this is her strongest book yet. It’s not a comfortable read, but it is entirely compelling.’ The Observer
An affair with an anonymous stranger threatens a London geneticist’s marriage and career in Louise Doughty’s spellbinding Apple Tree Yard, in which a private conflict between security and desire has shocking political consequences. Vogue.com
‘Doughty is a brilliant storyteller who knows how to build the suspense to a breaking point.’ The Times
‘If a prologue to a novel is to whet the reader’s appetite, Louise Doughty provides irresistible temptation with the opening to Apple Tree Yard… Recollection, interspersed with the growing tension as the trial plays out in the Old Bailey, provides a perfectly dovetailed structure. But within the thriller framework lies a wealth of acutely observed detail, a dissection of social attitudes and an examination of lust, trust, predatory sex, risky behaviour and responsibility…As deftly as her lover lured Yvonne into a high-risk relationship, Doughty has skilfully led the reader to cast aside misgivings and trust her confident lead. That the result is unsettling is evidence that there is considerably more to Apple Tree Yard than thrilling narrative alone.’ Herald Scotland
Doughty, like Zoë Heller, Rachel Cusk and Tessa Hadley, drops sharp, shiver-inducing insights, like winter raindrops, on every page… The story is compelling, but Doughty makes sure that we’re enthralled by teasing us with tantalising glimpses of future events. Her writing is piercing and potent, overpowering emotions captured in sharp, pithy phrases. For all the tachycardia-inducing detail of the plot, Doughty’s view is broad, steeping the story in authenticity. She provides convincing examples of the effects of trauma, such as the atmosphere after a vitriolic outburst at a middle-class dinner party: “ugly and baffled silence … thick in the yellow room”; and describes the larger world, such as a stranger’s personal drama on the street. The court scene is one of the best I’ve ever read, the suspense and tension building to a taut peak. A major theme is how we build up illusions about people we don’t know, and fall for our ideal rather than the individual. Others include the way female victims are treated by the criminal law system, the sly manipulation of juries, and the way a series of facts can be arranged and interpreted in a variety of ways, all telling different narratives. Riveting. The Independent
Nobody who reads Apple Tree Yard is likely to complain about feeling short-changed … Here the sharp domestic details are powerfully combined with (among other things) a dark crime thriller, a gripping courtroom drama and an unforced meditation on the pleasures and dangers of self-deception … Superbly teasing. Readers Digest
Certainly not typical thriller territory, but all the more appealing and unexpected for it. I loved this slow burner of a story which ignites into a nail-biting finale … Full of sharp, yet almost throwaway observations about women and careers, the differences between men and women, about love and long-term relationships, this book was nothing like what I expected. This was a fascinating read, reminiscent of Nicci French in top form, yet with an added twinge of melancholy. crimefictionlover.com
Tense, unnerving and gripping. Woman and Home
[It’s] fascinating to see a brilliant woman destroy her life with a few impulsive decisions. In Doughty’s hands, Yvonne’s actions are both shocking and weirdly understandable.’ Entertainment Weekly (US)
A masterful writer… Doughty also perfectly captures the quiet details of domestic life, the erotic charge of a high-stakes affair, the crackling drama of a courtroom. She dispatches the notion that we are masters of our own fate, chillingly illustrating how quickly we can derail our own lives. Bookpage Review (US)
Doughty’s seventh novel is a unique hybrid—a riveting courtroom drama, an engaging exploration of ideas, and a harrowing exposé of human nature, or, as Yvonne puts it, “the stories we tell in order to make sense of ourselves, to ourselves.” The book is a triumph. Every page bristles with menace. Macleans (Canada)
Read an interview with Louise Doughty on the Faber & Faber website here.