Two Short Takes

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty

I had been planning to read Apple Tree Yard well in advance of the then imminent TV series (preferring to read the book first), but only just made it in time. Suffice it to say, this was a thriller that I raced through in a couple of sessions, finding it unputdownable. This isn’t strictly a review (I recommend you read Victoria’s one here for that), rather some brief musings about book and TV.

Here’s how Doughty describes that first meeting:

… on one of the benches opposite. there was a man. He was seated and talking quietly into a mobile phone but looking at me. When he saw I had noticed him, he spoke briefly into the phone, then slipped it into his pocket. He kept looking at me as he rose to his feet. If we had met before, the look might have said, oh, it’s you. But we hadn’t met before and so it said something entirely other – but still with an element of recognition. I looked right back, and all was decided in that instant, although I didn’t understand that for a very long time. (p25)

She is so good at building the tension, right from the start. When it came to the TV series, with screenplay by Amanda Coe, having read the book so recently, I was pleased to recognise that a lot of the dialogue came straight from the page and the series remained very true to the book.

What about Emily Watson then. For a significant portion of time, she is just sitting in the dock having to rein herself in from reacting as the trial unfolds. Her close-up facial expressions and acting skills were exquisite. Ben Chaplin as lover Mark, and Mark Bonnar as husband Guy were both good too – although Chaplin is ‘not my type’!

For once, I found it hard to choose between the book and the TV – both were excellent. What did you think? (9/10)

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

This YA novel falls into the ‘princess, imprisoned in her tower is rescued by the prince next door’ type of romance. For Maddy, the thing that imprisons her is her allergy – to everything:

My disease is as rare as it is famous. It’s a form of Sever Combined Immunodeficiency, but you know it as “bubble baby disease.”
Basically I’m allergic to the world. Anything can trigger a bout of sickness. […] No one knows the triggers, but everyone knows the consequences. According to my mom I almost died as an infant. And so I stay on SCID row. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. (p3)

Poor Maddy. The only people she has daily contact with are her mom and Carla, her day-nurse. For them to get in and out of their hermetically sealed house, means airlocks, air blowers, hand-washing etc – a routine that takes over an hour. Maddy tries to remain cheerful, and being a bright girl, she is well-read and enjoys her remote schooling.

One day a new family move in next door. Relationships don’t get off to a good start when Maddy’s mom turns away the cake proffered in friendship without explanation. And once seen, never forgotten – their son Olly is the one for Maddy. How can they possibly strike up a relationship when Maddy can’t be in the same room as him?

Maddy narrates her story with good humour, lots of charts and diagrams, and plenty of teenage angst. I’m not going to tell you what happens, so as not to spoil things other than that twists and turns make for a exciting plot. Maddy’s imprisoning disease is not a condition caused by her mental health, unlike Under Rose Tainted Skies (see here), in which OCD and agoraphobia were the prison for the protagonist, her barriers are more physical.

This was great fun – I read it in one sitting, it really zips along – yet another new variation on that princess in her ivory tower needing a prince to rescue her. (8/10)

So – two books from my TBR – seemingly unconnected – but taken from different angles they are both about…


4 thoughts on “Two Short Takes

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Offbeat is a good description for this one too, and the breezy writing with added diagrams, doodles etc will draw in many teenaged readers. I’d like to read her new one too.

  1. Harriet Devine says:

    I read Apple Tree Yard when it first came out and was bowled over by it. Didn’t know what I’d make of the TV series but was riveted by it – really well done and true to the book. I couldn’t begin to choose between them!

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