The Hive by Gill Hornby (Little, Brown, £12.99)
There was bound to be a buzz around Gill Hornby’s debut novel. She is, after all, the sister of bestselling author Nick Hornby and wife of megaseller Robert Harris.
Unlike the vast majority of fledgling authors, her book netted her a tidy six-figure sum, the national and international rights auction was heated to say the least, and the film rights were snapped up by Focus Features when she’d barely had time to put the lid back on her Biro.
But is all this attention, money and clamour actually justified? Not really.
The Hive is by no means a bad book. It rattles along at a decent pace, introducing the colourful mums buzzing around Bea, queen of the St Ambrose school run, and dissecting the minutiae of their daily lives, from seemingly endless, minute-by-minuted parent-teacher meetings to excruciating lunches that inevitably end with someone sobbing into a ramekin of saggy soufflé.
But I found it difficult to engage with any of the characters – even the ones the author clearly thought were “the goodies”. Maybe it’s because I’m a working class northern mum whose school run days at Yearsley Grove Primary have never included planting double air kisses, hosting five-course lunches, attending lakeside balls or joining the rest of “the girls” for a pre-latte jog.
Rachel (the heroine of the tale), Bea, Heather, Georgie et al were simply not my cup of tea (builders, drop of milk, no sugar) and definitely not the sort of women I’d like to spend 304 pages of my life with.
- See our interview: Gill Hornby: ‘It’s much better to come from a distinctive place like York’
- The Hive by Gill Hornby is published by Little, Brown. Click here to buy it from Amazon