Review: The Hive by Gill Hornby

Posted 6 November, 2013 by Pushy in Blog, Featured, Pushy, Pushy Book Review / 4 Comments

Review: The Hive by Gill Hornby

The Hive

by Gill Hornby (Website, Facebook, Twitter)
Narrator: Karen Cass
Published by Hachette, Hachette Audio on September 10th 2013
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Humor
Pages: 352
Length: 10hrs 41min
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
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I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

4 Stars
There's only room for one Queen Bee: A hilarious and touching novel about the social world of school mothers.

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

Beatrice -- undisputed queen bee. Ruler, by Divine Right, of all school fundraising, this year, last year, and, surely, for many to come.

Heather -- desperate to volunteer, desperate to be noticed, desperate to belong.

Georgie -- desperate for a cigarette.

And Rachel -- watching them all, keeping her distance. But soon to discover taht the line between amused observer and miserable outcast is a thin one.

THE HIVE is a wickedly funny and brilliantly observed story about female friendship, power plays, and the joys and perils (well, mainly perils) of trying to do one's part.

Schoolyard Schadenfreude

It takes a particular kind of author to shine a light into the intricate, often insensible, inner workings of parental/school politics, but Gill Hornby does so with a deft hand. With a clear eye and often a wry smile, Ms. Hornby takes us into the lives of these women and lets us see their strengths, their insecurities and their complex but compelling relationships.

The characters are at the heart of this story.  We see the drama mostly through the eyes of Rachel, the girl who prefers to hang on the periphery, until she’s realized that she’s slid off the edge of everyone’s notice.  She’s just coming out of the destruction of her marriage and learning to negotiate all that, when she finds out that the school’s Queen Bee, aptly called Bea, has dropped her as a friend.  Through Rachel we come to know Georgie, the slacker mom who’s happy with her cluttered home and boisterous family, Heather, the mom who’s desperate to join but always held at arms length and Beatrice, the formerly undisputed ruler of the social whirl but who is now “juggling” family, friends, volunteering and… da-da-daaaaaaaa….a job!

For anyone who hasn’t had the experience of seeing their high school years be replayed as they navigate the rocky shoals of primary school politics, the story may not convey the poignancy that it did for me, but the Mean Girls meets Mommy Set dynamic is sure to intrigue any reader.  I found the story utterly delightful and more than relevant as I am smack dab in the middle of much of what I saw in this book.  And it brought up all sorts of questions about how I try to be as a mother, how I think others perceive me, how I’m trying to be perceived and what it all means, if anything, at the end of the day.

Funny, wry and full of characters you’ll both love and some you’ll love to hate, The Hive by Gill Hornby should definitely find it’s way into your TBR pile!

Rating 4

   

Hachette Audio is one of my favorite sources of audiobooks these days!  They always do such an amazing job in the production of their narrations and The Hive is no exception.  Karen Cass’s performance was fabulous, particularly in conveying the myriad characters and their voices both external and internal.  This was a fabulous listen and I highly recommend the audio format!

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Lover of words and authors; absolute fan girl of books! Give me a good story, with characters I can love (and hate) and I’ll follow you anywhere. Sing me a song of worlds I can dream of, and I’ll listen forever.

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