Yvonne Carmichael is a geneticist who is well respected in her field. She begins an extra-marital affair with a man to whom she refers as X, and her life gradually begins to spiral out of control, leading to a high profile court case. What will the verdict be?
I read Apple Tree Yard in anticipation of the television drama that begins this week. Doughty's writing style lends itself to adaptation, and I enjoyed the way in which she built up tension: switching time frames, between the beginning of the affair and the court case and describing Yvonne's surroundings and routines in immaculate detail, particularly the court buildings and the procedure for defendants. I found this tension intriguing and was desperate to find out, firstly, why Yvonne was on trial, and secondly, whether she would be found guilty.
Apple Tree Yard is written in first person, narrated by Yvonne, and this gives the reader insight into her thoughts and feelings throughout the affair and the court case. Whilst this is effective in terms of building tension, it meant that I found it difficult to warm to Yvonne's character, and sympathise with her as her trial progressed. Yvonne's narration is mostly directed at the man with whom she has the affair, and she frequently refers to him as "you." This emphasised the coldness of Yvonne's character for me, as I felt that the technique of Yvonne addressing her lover excludes the reader, which made it difficult for me to connect with them. However, this may be intentional on Doughty's part, as it helped me to understand the intensity of their relationship, which is intrinsic to the plot.
Apple Tree Yard ends with a twist, which led me to question the whole novel, and means that it will stay with me for a long time.
Overall, I enjoyed Apple Tree Yard, and found the plot and writing style combined to create a compelling novel.
You can watch the trailer for the BBC adaptation of Apple Tree Yard here, and the book is available from Amazon.