Saturday, 7 June 2014

The Hive - Gill Hornby

The HiveThe Hive by Gill Hornby
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Welcome to St Ambrose Primary School. A world of friendships, fights and feuding. And that's just the mothers.

It's the start of another school year at St Ambrose. But while the children are in the classroom colouring in, their mothers are learning sharper lessons on the other side of the school gates. Lessons in friendship. Lessons in betrayal. Lessons in the laws of community, the transience of power... and how to get invited to lunch.

I thought that I was really going to enjoy this book, it sounded right up my street. Unfortunately I was left feeling disappointed.

This is a story about mums and children at a primary school and how the author compares hierarchy and social standing of these mums to bees in a hive.

For me there were just too many characters introduced too quickly and the author did not give them any depth; I struggled to remember who they were and their place in the novel and this did not improve overtime. The way the author chose to switch from one to the other also added to the confusion so there were parts in the story where I had to go back and re-read pages as I didn't have a clue who I was meant to be reading about.

The pace was slow and dialogue contrived, none of the characters seemed believable and the plot (though difficult to identify this until mid way through the book) seemed to be disjointed in places and veered off the point so much so that I lost interest and it was difficult to make the effort to finish the book.

There were flashes of humour and clearly Gill Hornby has good powers of observation which did come across in the book but the whole story seemed flat, pointless, disappointing and I struggled to remember what was happening each time I picked it up to continue reading. Would it have been better to read in one sitting? Not sure, possibly, but how many people can read a book cover to cover in one sitting? The author has to remember that people can't do this and the story has to be memorable and engaging enough to make a reader want to finish it - this book didn't do this for me.

The many references to bees was also a little tedious - Bea being the self appointed Queen at the start of the novel, Clover and Heather, etc. all seemed a bit like overkill - I get that the book is meant to be satirical and there was a lot of well observed ironies, sarcasm and jealousy in the book but I felt that Gill Hornby focussed a little too much on trying to be witty and not enough on expanding the characters to engage with the reader.

Quite honestly by the end of the novel I really couldn't have cared less what happened, it wasn't sufficiently absorbing for me to care and having no real bond with any of the characters it was difficult after a few hours to recall what it was about! Not a sign of a good read.

Sorry Gill not for me - I can only really feel happy to give this 2 stars.

I would like to thank weekend reads for sending me this in exchange for an honest review.


  1. What a pity you didn't like it, it sounds like it could have been a great story. Very good and helpful review as always!

  2. I know! I had such high hopes for it!!! I really really wanted to enjoy it. :(