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Editor reviews

Louise Doughty’s gripping psychological thriller Apple Tree Yard is the story of Yvonne Carmichael: happy wife and career woman. When she embarks on an affair with an attractive stranger, at first it seems simple enough to compartmentalise the different facets of her life… but not for long. Narrated by the terrific Juliet Stevenson, Apple Tree Yard is a thrilling audiobook (available from Audible) that will have crime literature fans utterly gripped. Admirers of the book include such luminaries of the crime thriller genre as Val McDermid, Ian Rankin, Hilary Mantel and S.J. Watson.

Summary

Yvonne Carmichael has a high-flying career, a beautiful home and a good marriage. But when she meets a stranger she is drawn into a passionate affair.

Keeping the two halves of her life separate seems easy at first. But she can’t control what happens next.

©2014 Louise Doughty (P)2014 Faber Audio

Critic reviews

"Brilliant and bruising. Obsession, betrayal and blood-letting...." (Ian Rankin)  

 "A superb novel... I really didn’t want to finish it. And I don’t say that very often." (Julie Myerson)

"Realised I’d been holding my breath for the last forty pages. Gripping." (Val McDermid)

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • 2 Stars
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jill
  • Roermond, Netherlands
  • 08-02-14

Multi-layered and absorbing

I really enjoyed this book. Excellent characterization, complex plot and very thought-provoking indeed. Juliet Stevenson's narration is utterly superb. I had never heard of this author before; I'm glad I decided to follow the recommendations of other readers, she is a great discovery!

24 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant Recommendation!

What made the experience of listening to Apple Tree Yard the most enjoyable?

What a great choice of narrator, Juliet Stephenson used just the right tempo and intonation in her voice, which is like silk, to keep you wanting to hear more.

What did you like best about this story?

The way the story unfolds as Yvonne narrates her experiences, leaving you wanting to listen more and more. The twists and turns in the plot keep you guessing continually about the outcome.

Have you listened to any of Juliet Stevenson’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No I haven't but I will be checking out other books that she has narrated.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Richard
  • Pembrokeshire, United Kingdom
  • 24-01-14

A Gem, But Not Flawless.

A middle aged female academic, an affair, two brutal crimes, a trial and a conclusion. Sound familiar, a typical thriller ?. Well no, this dark intimate look into the human psyche is so much more than that, disturbing revealing and totally absorbing. Author Louise Doughty is a truly gifted writer, her use of language is well judged, her characters are beautifully drawn, their flaws and idiosyncrasies are subtly weaved into the story.It is not a comfortable listen, as the story unfolds the author reveals small insights into future events, this works really well, however you are left to ponder, as to how the story will unfold.
The real strength of the book is Louise Doughty's superb dissection of how we perceive ourselves and how we are able to make the facts fit our version of events, and sometimes we are only fooling ourselves.
The scenes set in the courtroom at The Old Bailey are probably the finest description of a legal case that I have ever read, a great insight into the workings of the British legal system.
Narrator Juliet Stephenson is quite brilliant, I could listen to her reading the Great Western Railway timetable, every character is distinct and her tone and intonation are just perfect.
In my opinion the book has one very minor flaw, the book is written in the first person, through the eyes of the previously mentioned female academic. The story is told in a series of letters written to her lover, though never sent, The letters are in the form of monologs both telling the story and revealing the main characters feelings as she attempts to justify her actions. I felt that in some of the monologs the author dragged thins out a little too far, this made the story feel a little ponderous, thus my only real minor criticism is that the book lacked pace. The book did not quite make 5 stars for this reason, but it was a very near thing, a very good, thought provoking book, I can only recommend that you read it.


35 of 38 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Gripping, shocking and thought provoking

I have been waiting for this audiobook to appear for the last six months since it came out in hardback and I was so excited to download it. It's my first listen of the year and I really can't imagine listening to a better novel this year. Louise Doughty has always been one of my favourite writers since the early novels such as 'Crazy Paving' (why are they not on audio?) but this is far superior to anything she has written before. It is gripping, shocking, thought provoking and completely consuming. I really did not know what to expect next and was completely mesmerised by Juliet Stevenson's perfect narration. Louise Doughty writes so well and her excellent prose is so well matched by the narration that I felt my life was completely overtaken by this amazing novel.

34 of 37 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Bit of an ordeal in places but a great story

I downloaded this book on the strength of the advertising poster, with no indication at all of what it was about until I started listening to it
A minutely observed tale of lust, trauma and consequences.
Charts the course of an illicit relationship through its many faces, from the woman's point of view, in the form of an intimate letter in much the same style as We Need to Talk About Kevin.
Could this book have been written by a man? I can't help but wonder. The wit of it for me is in the subtlety of the things she notices. (Things that men, apparently do not.) The things that remain unsaid.
I once read that an affair isn't about two people leading a double life; it's about two people leading half a life each. This story sets out to prove that in spades.
Most exciting story in months, which helped by being intelligently and sensitively read.
It made me find lots of excuses to keep listening just to see what would happen next!

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Gavingks
  • Dunbar, United Kingdom
  • 27-01-14

Think I read a different book, except at the end

Well I can honestly say this book is the first I nearly gave up on. I hated the start I was bored and the dismal erotica in the first third left me cold. Worse than that it seemed pointless. However, I stuck with it as I kept hoping it would take a twist and get interesting. It di but I was over 2 thirds in before it happened. In fairness the end third was a good legal drama and I did enjoy it. I think maybe that is why so many positive reviews hit, the end obscures the dull build up.
I also found the narration dull boring and depressing and over 14 hours was just far to much.
I accept I am on my own here but as I think I have a wide taste in literature I cant help feeling others are being overly generous.
In summary had the book been the last third with a little of the build up I would have scored it up around 3.5 or so

44 of 52 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • L
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 04-01-14

Best novel I read in 2013 - page turning thriller

What did you like most about Apple Tree Yard?

Strong narrative, intriguing development of lead characters

What did you like best about this story?

Unreliable narrator, the unstoppable flow of events, court scenes, twist at end.

What about Juliet Stevenson’s performance did you like?

Beautiful voice, paced perfectly and excellent accents as expected of her.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes as the book was the best of all my reads in 2013 I bought the audio version on the day it was released but as it is 14 hours long I had to listen to over two days.

Any additional comments?

Read it (or listen to it) and then read Louise Doughty's other books in particular What Ever You Love.

29 of 34 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent!

If you could sum up Apple Tree Yard in three words, what would they be?

Addictive
Evocative
Brilliant

What did you like best about this story?

The story is excellent, the characters believable, it held my interest the whole way through and Juliet Stevenson's narration was absolutely perfect.

Which character – as performed by Juliet Stevenson – was your favourite?

Yvonne

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Beware of tasting fruit from the forbidden tree

Any additional comments?

I'm recommending this book to everyone I know, it's a great listen!

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Sandor
  • banbury, oxon, United Kingdom
  • 13-04-14

Tedious Taudry Encounter

What would have made Apple Tree Yard better?

Should have been a short story.

Would you ever listen to anything by Louise Doughty again?

Never !

What does Juliet Stevenson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

She has a nice voice, but I felt sorry for her (and myself) trolling through this .

What character would you cut from Apple Tree Yard?

Anyone who wasn't necessary for the story, like woman in painfully described green dress walking down road, adding zero to the story, or woman cleaning her ears with tissue, again described in painful minute detail for ten minutes, pointless tedium.

Any additional comments?

This had the ingredients of a taught little novel, I was expecting " Brief Encounter" meets " Witness For The Prosecution" but got " stupid woman who keeps telling me how intelligent she is meets sad little fantasist" , perhaps the author believed she was being paid by the word and was therefore determined to use as many as possible to pad this boring taudry little tale out into a sizeable book. Please do not waste ( what felt like) days of your life on this, there are many better books and this one should never had made it to print let alone an audio book. I read other reviews and thought it couldn't be that tedious they'd never have let it onto their site, but I was wrong and the other reviewers right, give this a miss.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars

Surprised me

I enjoyed this book while listening to it, but have been surprised how much the story stayed with me. The story and characters were more powerful than I realised at the time I first listened. It is a while since I listened to this book and an considering listening to it again, which I don't now ally do.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • andrew
  • 29-01-17

The reveal

Would you consider the audio edition of Apple Tree Yard to be better than the print version?

I was intrigued by Part 1 of the TV version so decided to hear it and was delighted to find the narrator was Juliet Stevenson.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

(Minor spoiler alert)
I do not know why the author gave away the courtroom reveal earlier in the story. There were enough other hints such as the chimp experiment discussion Yvonne had with her solicitor. I would have omitted that earlier piece of the barrister's cross examination as it comes up again virtually verbatim later. Always difficult to get stories told in flashback right and balance out suspense versus too much information.

What does Juliet Stevenson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Incredible characterizations by Ms.Stevenson. Sometimes I can imagine voices when reading in print but not all the time. She adds so much by her voice acting.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I was moved by the family and friends' reactions. I was also moved by the human fallibility component in general and how life can "turn on a dime".

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Bjerkana
  • 07-10-14

Complex questions

Where do I start to review this book. It has so much in it. A profound psychological drama, cleverly unfolded, with so many facets. The book explores relationships, morality, motivations, perceptions, personality and the exigencies of circumstance which can turn our lives inside out. The author considers the working of the law and its relationship to underlying moralities, the meaning of truth and lies. Her central character lives and breathes through the outstanding performance of Juliet Stevenson. I loved this book and will look for more by this author.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jane F. Clifton
  • 20-09-14

Juliet Stevenson could read me the phone book.

If you could sum up Apple Tree Yard in three words, what would they be?

Brilliant story, cleverly told and perfectly narrated.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Apple Tree Yard?

It's such a slow build but you're there all the way - scared, intrigued - and you care about all the characters.

What about Juliet Stevenson’s performance did you like?

Perfect pitch, rhythm and pace. She is The Business.

Any additional comments?

I am almost prepared to listen to it again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Ilana
  • 10-03-14

Sordid

Dashing off a quick review after finish this book. I did not like it at all. I'm giving it a three-star overall rating though because it's a well told story, but the topic of sex and adultery is one that doesn't appeal to me in the least and I found the story very grim and depressing. A respected researcher and scientist, Yvonne Carmichael, is happily married and with grown children when she meets a strange man wearing a snazzy suit one day while at the house of commons. He takes her down to the crypt to the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft (I did not know there was a church in the house of commons), where they have quick sex in a broom closet. From there they begin a sordid love affair, sordid because her unnamed lover is addicted to risky sex in unlikely places. This is supposed to be a smart woman in love with her husband and with everything to lose, and she nearly does when a work colleague rapes her when she gets drunk at a university party, which lead to even more dreadful consequences. I almost dropped it toward the beginning, but then stuck to it only because it was one of my favourites, Juliet Stevenson narrating, and I knew things were bound to get interesting since it's a thriller. But I almost wish I hadn't read it, because I feel dirtied by it now. Wondering whether I should ask Audible for my credit back. I would certainly be in my rights, but then I guess it wouldn't be morally acceptable for me to publish a negative review in such a case, would it? I got this originally because of the narrator, as not infrequently buy books I know nothing about when they are read by someone I really like, and also because none other than Hilary Mantel and Helen Dunmore were among those who gave it rave reviews. I'm sure others who aren't turned off the topic of sex like I am will find it quite good. I blame the antidepressants for preventing me from fully enjoying it, but then I would need antidepressants anyway after finishing the book, so it all evens out in the end.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Donna Stephenson
  • 12-08-17

surprise.......last page

great story and book. enjoy, right up to the ending. would read this author again for sure