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Summary

it happened,    

                           again and again

                           and

           again and again and again.

Together

                                             apart.

In love

                 in aching.

Tangled

unravelling.

Ana and Connor have been having an affair for three years. In hotel rooms and coffee shops, swiftly deleted texts and briefly snatched weekends, they have built a world with none but the two of them in it.  

But then the unimaginable happens, and Ana finds herself alone, trapped inside her secret.

How can we lose someone the world never knew was ours? How do we grieve for something no one else can ever find out? In her desperate bid for answers, Ana seeks out the shadowy figure who has always stood just beyond her reach - Connor's wife Rebecca. 

Peeling away the layers of two overlapping marriages, Here Is the Beehive is a devastating excavation of risk, obsession and loss.

©2020 Sarah Crossan (P)2020 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

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Excelled

What a book! I loved it! I was fully absorbed from start to finish. My first Sarah Crossan book - definitely not my last.

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Impressionism

I absolutely adore Sarah Crossan’s debut adult novel, Here is the Beehive. The story is written in verse and it is the most exquisite piece of literature that I have read since Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. It is quite simply art. In some ways Here is the Beehive reminds me of Roy’s manipulation of story structure. Crossan’s story uses a mish-mash of linear and non-linear narrative. For much of the time the present narrative is linear; whereas, much of the past narrative is non-linear. However, some of the past narrative blends into the present narrative. Crossan reproduces traumatic events for the protagonist, Ana, by embedding the non-linear, bi-temporal structure into the story’s skeleton. We, the reader, experience Ana’s trauma through the structure. Her memories continuously interrupt her present, and therefore, interrupt the readers reading experience, which means that we share Ana’s distress. Right from the beginning, the prose reminded me of Raymond Carver, which was interesting as Carver is mentioned in the story. Though I could have believed this was synchronicity, I don’t think it was. I think Crossan may be influenced by Carver’s minimalist style of writing. The prose emits superfluous detail, but a great deal is hidden below the surface in the subtext. Crossan, like Carver, is fully aware of what silence does for the reader. She invites interpretation, but not ambiguity, it is clear that our sympathies as readers lie with Ana, rather than Connor’s wife Rebecca. Crossan’s use of psychic distance is interesting. Subtext brings the reader up close, but simultaneously I felt distant from Ana; however, this distance seems to be a technique that mirrors post-traumatic amnesia. There are many repeated words and phrases which hint at something terrible; although, we aren’t presented with the catastrophic trauma memory until close to the end, and gosh, it hurt my heart. Though the poetic prose is clean and clear, the story is sprinkled with beautiful imagery, which is demonstrated in the following extract: ‘In the raw dark garden the moonbeams light me up like I am on a stage. But I am not singing or dancing.’ For me, prose such as this is reminiscent of Anton Chekhov, which is interesting given his influence on Carver, who may have influenced Crossan. Like Chekhov and Carver, Crossan’s work reminds me of an impressionist painting – a beautiful Monet. There is an unspeakable beauty in this story and there are so many more thoughts that I could add, such as the title; or how Crossan’s disregard for sentence structure is reminiscent of Beckett, Joyce or Proust; or how there is an affinity with Max Porter’s story Grief is a Thing With Feathers. I’ll leave those thoughts for now though. The Audible edition is delicious. I could listen to it over and over again. Reviewed by Amanda@bonny-highlands (9th of August 2020)

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Disappointing

Disappointing after good newspaper reviews but the character was unlikeable, unsympathetic and frankly annoying and the narration was so slow I had to turn up the speed. Probably no bad thing as it was all over more quickly.

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a sad tale, well told

well told story, use of descriptive language brought scenes to life. .. left with an overwhelming sense of sadness

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The agony and the ecstasy

The theme of a married woman's affair with a married man ending with his death is not a new one! But this is strikingly original - a scouring out of the soul into words. It's written in verse, but had I not seen the little extract of the printed page online, I wouldn't have realised although I would have responded to the jumbled impressionistic cameos from past and present times, the lyricism, the 'poetic' imagery, the mellifluous sounds of the words, the repetitions like refrains... How different reading the lines would have made, I'm not sure but I certainly don't think it loses any of its power on audio, partly because Sarah Crossan herself reads it and she knows her own nuances, moods and totally real dialogue. Ana, a solicitor and mother of two small children and wife to Paul, has been having an affair with Conor for three years. And for these three years of shared intensely torrid sexual passion snatched in weekends and hours away from his wife Rebecca and his children, Conor has promised he'll leave them for Ana. Ana's own fraught childhood is beautifully recreated with few words, the deft economy of poetry. Her sister tells her 'You're an accident. Mummy didn't want you'; her father's temper is frightening. There is no judgement of either Ana or Conor for their betrayals, but a visceral portrait of the pure ecstasy of their relationship - and the hideous realities of its manifold ripples of destruction of themselves and others. The poetry-form is a clever way of purifying the essence of the whole affair. Can a woman with a husband and two small children and a fulltime job as a solicitor REALLY have the TIME for a 3 year affair with a heavily-married man? The poetry form is so enveloping that such thoughts are irrelevant, as are the lovers' children. I've listened to it twice - I'm sure 3rd or 4th listenings would yield fresh detail. Don't miss it!