Tag Archives: adultery

Never Greener by Ruth Jones

The book Never Greener by Ruth Jones lying on a patch of green grass and daisies which echo the daisy on the book cover.

Whisper it, but sometimes the joy of reading is being able to rubber neck as characters make disastrous lifestyle choices and sit in judgement of the fallout. Never Greener by Ruth Jones was a book that allowed me to indulge these tendencies to the full. My friend passed the book on to me, and by page 11 I was already texting her to express my absolute contempt for the behaviour of the main characters. She got regular updates condemning them until I finished the book.

Written by that Ruth Jones (of Gavin and Stacey fame, aka the woman people did impressions of at me for like my first three years living in England), Never Greener tells the story of Kate Andrews, an actress who had a passionate affair with a married man, Callum, before finding success as an actress and trying to move on from the fallout. Seventeen years later, Kate and Callum meet again, and of course, faced with the choice of restart the affair or leave it well alone they make the bad choice with consequences for everyone around them.

You always see bookish people sneering at the concept of unlikable characters putting people off a book, but I know what people mean. If you don’t care about the characters, how can you be invested in the story? In Never Greener, Ruth Jones has been very clever with this because even though I was quick to text my friend that the main characters were an absolute bunch of b***ards, as a reader you become very invested in how things will play out because of the more likeable innocent bystander characters.

It’s easy to wonder whether Ruth Jones based the character of Kate Andrews, actress and raving narcissist on a real actress, but I wondered the same about the character of Callum MacGregor, as the rugby lad past his glory days who can’t keep it in his trousers is such a familiar town trope, if you will, in Wales that transposing the characters to Scotland doesn’t stop you feeling like it might be someone that you know. Ruth Jones’ storytelling chops are clearly on display as the unfair unfolds, and indeed unravels, it’s hard to put the book down.

Never Greener lives up to the title as something of a modern day fable, and is a great read for one of those nights when you feel the need to put the world to rights. The downside for me is that the male character, typically with these things, seems to come across better than the female even though in the early stages of their relationship at least the balance of power and responsibilities lay with him, but no book is perfect and I did like how this played out.

Here is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan

$R86Z4GI        “ She had discovered us.

This was her way of getting in touch,

     of punishing me”

Here is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan

Ana Kelly is in love with Connor Mooney. They met at her legal practice when Connor came in to draw up his will and started an affair. One day, shortly after the couple have argued, Ana receives a phone call from Connor’s wife, Rebecca. Unaware of their affair, Rebecca tells her that her husband has died and she needs to organise the legal affairs relating to his estate. Bereft without the man she loved, and unable to share her grief as a result of the affair, she transfers her obsession to the woman who stood between them.

Here is the Beehive is a short novel written in blank verse, narrated from the perspective of Ana Kelly as she struggles to come to terms with her lover’s death. Crossan makes the most of the narrow focus of her narrator, the story, despite its brevity, becoming increasingly complex as Ana’s focus shifts in increments and we learn more about her own circumstances, and the increasingly complex world of her affair. I did wonder if Connor’s wife was named Rebecca as a nod to the Daphne Du Maurier novel of the same name.

I thought the book was skillfully written, but I struggled to empathise with the main characters, at times feeling incredibly hostile towards them, a testament to the author’s skill but not a recipe for the most relaxing read! In terms of style, despite the blank verse, I’d say it’s a little bit Sally Rooney’s Normal People, twenty years after university and lacking (for me) the emotional hook and goodwill the characters in Normal People engendered.