Challenge Participant


Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The Hive by Gill Hornby

The Hive

Welcome to St Ambrose Primary School. A world of friendships, fights and feuding. And that's just the mothers. It's the start of another school year at St Ambrose. But while the children are in the classroom colouring in, their mothers are learning sharper lessons on the other side of the school gates. 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 fund-raising, this year, last year and, surely, for many years to come. Heather - desperate to volunteer, desperate to be noticed, desperate just to belong. Georgie - desperate for a fag. And Rachel - watching them all, keeping her distance. But soon to discover that the line between amused observer and miserable outcast is a thin one. The Hive is an irresistible, brilliantly observed novel - warm, witty and true. Wickedly funny, it is also a fascinating and subtle story about group politics and female friendship. From the joys and perils (well, mainly perils) of the Lunch Ladder, to the military operation that is the Car Boot Sale, via the dos and don'ts of dressing your child as a dalek, all human life is here.

This book is cleverly titled - it wasn't until I started reading it that I realised that Gill Hornby is so right with her comparison of a bee hive to that of a school's parent's association/fund raising committee.

Hornby has cleverly identified that within a school community, there are a group of parents who are volunteering for everything, organising fund raising, taking new parents under their wing and generally supporting the teaching staff. Although I do not believe that there is always a 'queen bee' within this group of parents, Hornby introduces us to Bea, who has taken on this role and organises the group of parents within activities regarding the school, but also, interestingly, with activities outside of school e.g. exercise routines.

I found that there were lots of characters within the book, some of who's back story's we were told, others who seemed to be there to pad it out a bit. These characters bought many different story strands to the book, some of which seemed to link into the main story, others drifted and went nowhere. I think that some of these stories could of been developed further and would of made a better read. I also thought that the main characters at the start of the book seemed to be lost part way through the book and only came back in at the end in a weak manner - this I think, especially Bea, could of been developed more and could of shown a meatier storyline, with the feelings of mums whose children are at school all day, feeling lost and undervalued.

The book was an okay read, it promised lots but I don't believe it lived up to all of its hype and possibilities from reading the synopsis.

The school my children go to is an inner city primary school and although there is a similar committee it has different dynamics to this one which is in a smaller village/town community.  I could identify parents from the playground which were similar to the characters within this book but I think that the school my children attend is too large to have this close community within all the parents. 
Hornby's ideas behind the book was very clever and I am sure it can be observed in many smaller, close knit school communities.

I received this book through the Mumsnet book club and also through Net Galley in return for an honest review. 

No comments:

Post a Comment