The Hive by Gill Hornby (3 out of 5)

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I picked this one up because it sounded funny; in fact, the cover promises “wickedly funny.” And it crossed my mind that she was somehow related to Nick Hornby, another of my favorite authors. And she is! Gill is his sister. She’s also married to Robert Harris, one of my favorite authors (Archangel). I was really hoping for wickedly funny. It has some moments, but the book itself and the bitter vigilance and vehemence in which some of these women conduct “friendships” make me feel like some people are better off being alone than surrounded by phony friends. But again, books like these do send a message, and while this one was a bit hard to take, it’s a point well taken to heart and a book you can recommend to the book clubs. I don’t think it’s super serious subject matter, but regardless, still a good read.  It had moments where it reminded me of Prep by Curtis Sittenfield meeting The Gossip Girls and Sex In The City for a quickie, to give you a good idea. 

The start of another school year at St. Ambrose. The kids are back in class, and their mothers are out in full force. The mothers are truly something. Instead of being worried about their kids, it’s more about status, popularity, and betrayal in the face of power and ruling the lunch roost. Bea is the head of the clique, coven, group, spiderweb, whatever you would like to term this group. She’s the one who’s determined to be the Queen of all, and beware anyone who gets in her path. Heather is the loner off the group, trying to belong and find some niche in which she can carve her initials. All Georgie wants to do is smoke all damn day, and Rachel keeps a respectable, but cautious distance while trying to figure out how to infiltrate the cast iron chains surrounding this power posse. Throw in a new headmistress and the mommies welcoming new mommies into the school, and the power balance in the mom circle shifts radically, with often funny, but often more sad and depressing results coming about. 

The book, as I said, has moments of lightness, but the dark pull here takes over much of it, and any lighthearted moments, in my opinion at least, belong to Georgie. I absolutely despise Bea’s character, and you don’t even get the whole story on why she’s such a bitch. Usually, there’s some idea- a backstory, a hint, another character spilling the beans. No dice here, kids. I think the story suffers from the characters not having complete histories. Maybe that’s the point? Maybe Hornby doesn’t want you to have the whole enchilada, just a side order of guacamole to satisfy your munchies with. 

However, I found Hornby’s writing, on the whole, refreshing and you didn’t set it down until you finished it. You just yearn and long for more than the characters deliver to the canvas. Another reason I picked it up was that Maria Semple, who authored Where’d You Go Bernadette?, one of my favorite books last year, really gave it a good review. I saw moments of sheer hilarity, but in the end the sketch ended up looking like a current skit on SNL than one from the glory days. I would, as I said, recommend this for a book club, because I think they would enjoy the differing character personalities and have much to discuss in the way of the differences among the mothers, but as I was seeking something light-hearted and poking fun at the institution of the Mama Nation and instead got a jar full of vinegar sitting in the sun at a craft fair, I can only, in good conscience, give it 3 stars. 

 

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~ by generationgbooks on October 10, 2013.

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