All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Here Is The Beehive by Sarah Crossan

on October 5, 2020

Here Is The Beehive
Sarah Crossan
Bloomsbury ANZ
2020, 288p
Read via my local library/Borrow Box

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

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.

I don’t read a lot of novels in verse. Although I’ve actually read two this year pretty close together, which is unusual for me. I’m generally the type of person who wants more in my storytelling and sometimes I find verse a difficult medium to get stuff of meaning across. But I’ve read Sarah Crossan before and I’d heard good things about this and I was curious. Also it was available through my local library’s app for eBooks so instant gratification for the win.

Ana is a lawyer, working seemingly in wills and inheritance laws and she meets Connor at work, when he comes to her to have his will drawn up and trust funds for his three children. For the last three years, they’ve been having a very on/off affair. Ana seems ready to leave her life – she’s also married, with children. But Connor does not at all seem in the same place. He continually says that he cannot leave his wife and Ana often loses her patience with this. One of them will say it has to end, they’ll separate for a while. But eventually, they’ll come together again and things will resume. One day, Ana finds out that Connor has died when his wife calls the office to request how to go ahead with his will. Ana is gobsmacked and at first, thinks it’s some sort of joke. How could this be? She was speaking to him on the day he died. Actually, just beforehand. But the reality then sinks in and Ana is lost, set adrift in a world of pain and grief that she can’t even confide to people in, because no one she knows, knows about the affair. Ana seeks out Connor’s widow Rebecca, ostensibly to provide practical help and advice, but to also snatch a little bit more of Connor while she can.

I think that in this case, the verse format helps convey Ana’s broken frame of mind, the messiness of her emotions and her grief. She’s completely blindsided by the news that Connor is dead and it’s only because she was also his lawyer that she even finds out when she does. She has a lot of feelings that she struggles with, the disbelief that he is gone is primary but she must “soldier on” so to speak, keep turning up to work and getting things done because no one knows that she has any reason not to. And it’s not something she can really tell people either, she can’t request leave from her boss or tell her best friend why she’s losing weight, not doing well. No one knew (except one friend of Connor’s) and because of that Ana must wade through the fog herself, reminiscing about their relationship. It’s through these memories that we learn how they met, how they first began the affair and the tricky back and forth of it.

Everything about this is destructive. Connor and Ana’s relationship is destructive, even when it’s at its height. By the way it began, it’s full of drama and fighting and making up and accusations and demands and jealousy. And I felt like all of that was conveyed really well. The reader knows that Connor is married immediately but it takes a little while for the author to reveal that Ana is as well, and that she has children. The way Ana treats her husband is really pretty vile in this – and I know we’re getting a snapshot in time, especially when she’s not in a terribly good place. But she couldn’t make it any more obvious how she feels a lot of the time and the affair she’s conducting with Connor is ruining so many of her other relationships. She seems to place him above all others. It doesn’t feel grandly romantic, it feels secretive and sly and incredibly, incredibly toxic. Connor is dead and now all we get are Ana’s remembrances but it was hard to warm to him. Connor seemed like the guy that quintessentially wanted it all – the wife in the lovely home, the three kids…..and then the mistress on the side. He never seems like he’s ever going to leave his wife, no matter what and Ana keeps trying to force him to. She even threatens to call his wife and tell her. This is all consuming in Ana’s life, it seems more obsession than love, I’m not sure if it’s an escape? But if it is, it doesn’t seem to be a very enjoyable or peaceful one.

The ending felt very sudden, and ripped me out of the story at what felt like a key point in both Ana’s development personally and also within her marriage. I wanted to know what happened next – even though it’s not really what the story was about. But that was honestly, the part that I was the most invested in and it was when the book ended, which felt disappointing. But in terms of conveying the messiness and chaos of Ana’s emotions, I think the format was used in a really clever way. I just wanted her to take responsibility for some of the mess in her home life and it seemed like the story ended just as she was about to do just that.

6/10

Book #194 of 2020

 


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