The Hive by Gill Hornby

imageThe Telegraph newspaper in association with WHSmith is offering readers the, brilliantly observed and wickedly funny debut novel By Gill Hornby, entitled The Hive, which has been newly released in paperback. for just £2.99 (Instead of the RRP £7.99) between Thursday, May 8 and Wednesday, May 14. Readers can also claim the novel by bringing in one of the printed vouchers published in the paper on Thursday, May 8 or Saturday, May 10

The novel starts during the start of another school year at St Ambrose Primary School, and everyone is raring to get started, it is a world of friendships, fights exclusive cliques and feuding. But while the children are in the classroom colouring, outside the school gates their mothers are learning harsh lessons in friendship, betrayal, the laws of the community, the transience of power..and how to get invited to lunch. The novel Looks at how, from, social events to fundraising, everyone, willing or not, must play their part, all under the watchful eye of the queen of the hive. The novel features Beatrice, the bossy undisputed queen bee. Ruler, by Divine Right, of all school fund-raising, this year, last year and, surely, for many years to come. Heather who is desperate to volunteer, desperate to be noticed, desperate just to belong. Georgie who is desperate for a cigarette And Rachel who is watching them all, keeping her distance, only to discover that the line between amused observer and miserable outcast is a thin one.

Initially, there seemed to be a lot of characters to get used to, what with the mothers, their husbands and their children, but the characters are all very distinctive in terms of personality so this was not a problem after a few chapters. In fact, the metaphor of the social group being compared to a hive was enhanced by the amount of activity and socialisation continuously taking place. Not all of the characters are likeablE there are lots of cliques and sub-cliques, and only one group is really popular and cool. The parents behaviour mirroring that of the children. In The Hive, Beatrice is the grown up version of the girl who seemed perfect and popular at school, but just as we suspected when at school, she’s not quite as perfect as she seems. The effort that some of the characters put in to stay close to her made for 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.

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