Publication Date: 20th August 2020
I’d never read any Sarah Crossan before as she usually writes YA novels and I don’t read YA. so when Here Is The Beehive dropped unexpectedly through my letterbox I was excited to see it is Sarah Crossan’s first adult fiction novel (I was also blown away by how stunning that cover is!).
Here Is The Beehive tells the story of Ana and Connor, each married with children and conducting a 3 year extramarital affair.
However, the most tragic event has happened and Connor has died, plunging Ana into unknown territory when it comes to grieving for someone you love but nobody around you knows about.
Ana and Connor meet when he becomes a client of Ana’s and asks her to draw up his last will and testament. This meeting and initial spark opens up a tentative (albeit professional at first) relationship between them. In assisting Connor with the drawing up of his will, Ana finds out about his wife Rebecca and their three young sons.
Further meetings between the couple are engineered and they become ever closer until their emotions and physical attraction spill over and their affair begins.
When Connor dies, Ana is shocked to her core and feels like she doesn’t have an outlet for the tremendous weight of the grief she is carrying. She has nobody to talk to about the intense and complex love she had for Connor, and nobody to support her in her loss.
When Rebecca asks Ana to deal with Connor’s will after his shocking death, Ana uses this as an opportunity to become close to Rebecca and the three boys she shared with Connor. She infiltrates their lives, little by little under the guise of helping Rebecca in her grief and it being ‘all part of the service’. She so desperately wants to find out more about the woman Connor chose to stay with over her.
But just how close to Connors private family life can she get? And what does this mean for her own family?
Ana is a fascinating character, not entirely likeable given that she’s committing adultery and risking the happiness of not only herself but her husband and young children. However, I could understand how frustrated, abandoned and alone she must have felt when Connor was taken from her so suddenly with no closure and no one for her to speak to about it.
In novels portraying adultery we quite often side with the betrayed wife and vilify ‘the other woman’, however in this case it’s not so black and white. Not for me anyway.
Ana feels trapped and has an obsessive need to find out from any source possible, in any way possible, how Connor really felt about her. Their relationship was not perfect and they had many overwhelming feelings of guilt which ultimately broke them up quite a few times, but they always came back together. She almost has to justify their time together and retrospectively analyse their relationship and Connor’s feelings for her knowing that she will now never know for sure.
It is not a relationship that is looked back on fondly through rose tinted glasses. It is a warts and all union which is put through the rigours of real life. It is a relationship laid bare to the grim realities and imperfections of life. A relationship you can’t look away from.
‘We plan for death, make sensible decisions while gorging on life. But no one intends to die. When you wondered into my office three years ago, you never thought I would have to confront your family’s grief, or my own..
This is a novel written in verse and is beautifully lyrical. Sarah Crossan’s writing draws you in so effortlessly and so completely, I read this book in one session and was utterly absorbed throughout.
This is a story of love, grief and the need to validate feelings. It’s one of those books that plays on your mind long after you’ve finished reading it. It throws up all sorts of questions, questions which will most likely never have any answers.
I loved it and I’m sure it will appear on my best books of the year list at the end of this year and OF COURSE it has been neatly slotted onto my Forever Shelf.
Thank you so much as always to the publisher for my copy for review.
See you all soon.
Amanda – Bookish Chat xxx