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The Hive: A Novel Hardcover – September 10, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Bea Stuart is the informal but undisputed leader of mums of the students at St. Ambrose Church Primary School, and for years, Rachel Mason has been her best friend and confidante. But after Rachel’s husband leaves her for another woman, Rachel finds herself, suddenly and without warning, outside her former inner circle. As Bea gets a job, and new residents join the community, the mothers’ social and power structures shift, with a new headmaster adding a note of piquancy. (And just to emphasize the title’s theme, Rachel’s mother keeps bees and provides selected information about the apian way.) Occasional tragedy strikes during the academic year described, but generally first-novelist Hornby displays a light, witty touch in masterfully delineating a quirky cast of characters, among them cynical Georgie, who hides her deep love of her expanding family and can throw together a gourmet lunch in minutes with what she grows in her own greenhouse, and Bea’s daughter, Scarlett, a mean girl learning well the lessons of her mother. Alternately touching and satirical but consistently entertaining. --Michele Leber


"The Hive is Mean Girls for moms. It begins as a tart vivisection of mother culture: the invidious comparisons, the one-upping, the compliments that insult. Yet in the tradition of the best satire, which engenders a fondness for its target even as it skewers, The Hive made me fall in love with these women, each flawed and interesting, trying in her own way to be herself. You won't be able to resist picking a favorite, or casting the book from your own circle of friends (or even your book club). Escape to someone else's social snarls for a few hours, and enjoy this brilliantly witty, wonderfully warm serving of mama drama."―Lydia Netzer, author of New York Times Notable Book of the Year Shine Shine Shine

"With a wicked eye and a giant heart, Gill Hornby weaves a lively and hilarious tale that's pure fun. If you loved Bridget Jones's Diary and you have a child in school, The Hive is the book for you."―Maria Semple, author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette

"The familiar notion that a group of women behaves like a hive is developed here into an enjoyable acerbic social commentary on mean girls of all ages, lightened by touches of hen lit."―Library Journal (starred review)

"Gill Hornby's mom-edy, The Hive, is a stinger."―Vanity Fair

"The Hive maintains a healthy dose of humor within the mothers' characters. The novelist's British impersonations of the characters are hilarious ...The Hive is a refreshing read because the Brits have perfectly constructed sentences, so enviably precise...The Hive is a fun and witty read, one that everyone can relate to. As life evolves, we naturally evaluate our relationships and our contributions to them. Hornby gives us yet another fictional experience of how our relationships affect us, and how we can survive them." -The Aspen Times

Proponents of career-centered feminism, such as Leslie Bennetts, often stress the financial and other dangers of leaving the workplace. What happens to your negotiating abilities? Do political antennae grow dull? For that answer, look no further than Gill Hornby (who, for the record, has "absolutely no view" on how other women should live) and yet who has, after "a good 16, 17 years of not going out there," produced a sophisticated commercial novel about what she knows that is deeply plugged in to our zeitgeist. - The Daily Beast

"Hornby's debut novel, it says on the cover, is already a sensation, the book every publisher wanted. It deserves all of it really, for the richness of the concept." - The Guardian

"Hornby's combining of 'the sticky stuff' and the daily ups and downs is marvelously conveyed - altogether delish." - The Spectator

"Clever and witty...Anyone who has ever found themselves picked last for games or not invited for lunch will shudder with recognition." -Sunday Times (London)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (September 10, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316234796
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316234795
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,659,234 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Georgie is not having the cheerful activity at the latest gathering of the mother's of St. Ambrose School. She is so endearing to me that I rate the whole book on her. She has a lot of children, I am not sure how many or if we are told. At the start of the book, she is expecting the other mothers for a weekly fund raising luncheon that operates on a round robin. First she has to hide all the shoes, and while this is a corny take off on poor housekeeping, her attitude of true contentment and pauses to kiss both infant and husband make her a breath of grit on the air. I mean, who could not love a character who fakes smoking while pregnant to get a few minutes peace?

The book translates only about 80% to most American PTA's given the round robin lunches and the tag sales run out of people's trunks in the school parking lot. Still I enjoyed it. Her friend Rachel is another character who eventually finds herself at odds with the pack. And yes, there is a hive with a queen "Bea". The wincing name nearly cost this a star, but I am still gob smacked with Georgie and her unapologetic naps.

The plot is not especially new, and some characters have appeared over and over in current literature. But a girl has to have some rebellion and I found this book to be so funny that I am standing by my five stars.

PS I read in Britain it had a cult following along with a group of people outraged over the cult following. I think that this is just the kind of book it is. I like it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amanda on September 29, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I received this book free from the publisher on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

<u>The Hive</u> is the story of a group of middle-aged mothers of schoolchildren. It's got an ensemble cast, which, if done well, can be very entertaining (think of <u>A Casual Vacancy</u> -- no real single plot, but lots of characters to follow). It has a little bit of drama, albeit quite petty. The characters have a goal. Well, sort of. In theory, it should be something really great.

In reality, though, it has some issues.

First, the characters. When you have an ensemble cast and no real plot, you need really, really good characters. They need to be well-rounded, fully developed, and interesting. No one really cares whether a group of women bickers over who's in charge of which fundraising activities for their kids' school. That shouldn't have been the main thread tying things together, in my opinion. I didn't feel connected to any of the characters, and I didn't really care what happened to any of them. They seemed immature, petty, and cliquey, and I wouldn't want to be friends with any of them. Their cult-like following of Bea to the exclusion of others when Bea says so is incredibly frustrating, and I can't understand just why I'm supposed to care about women who can't or won't think for themselves. The more interesting story, in my opinion, would have been Bea's, but we hardly glimpse her side of things. I'd love to know why she's so awful. Is there anything redeeming about her at all? I'm not so sure there is.

Second, the dialogue. All I can really say here is: oh dear.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bernadette O'Connor on December 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the dullest book I think I've ever read. Over-hyped as clever and insightful, it reads more like a short story in the Readers Digest. The premise was interesting as a study of adult bullying but in no way does it deliver. It was billed in the Times as the literary debut of the year and i think had gushing reviews in other papers which means you cant trust book reviews.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This novel takes a group of parents at St Ambrose Church Primary School and looks at the way their lives interact and change over a school year. There is Rachel, whose husband has just left her, queen bee, Beatrice Stuart, who organises virtually every event and holds court in the playground, desperate wannabee Heather, who longs to be accepted by Bea’s clique, smart and funny Georgie and new parents Bubba and Melissa. The school also has a new headmaster, handsome Mr Orchard, who becomes the focus of interest for some of the mothers.

Much of this novel, and these characters, are stereotypes, of course, but I would guess that most mothers at the school gate will know people who vaguely correspond to these types. It will be a year of tragedy, changing allegiances, the organised chaos of car boot and cake sales, bullying, rejection and romance. It is Rachel’s mother who has bee hives and the analogy between the hive and Bea Stuart can feel a little overdone. However, despite the shortcomings of the plot and the limitations of some characters, there is much to like in this novel. I enjoyed seeing how the course of the year changed the lives of those associated with the school and I particularly liked both Rachel and the permanently pregnant Georgie. Her deep love for her children was one of the most believable part of the whole book for me, as she tried to steer clear of involvement, but was always dragged in against her will.

This novel does not, thankfully, read like chick lit, but it could have been improved by a little more depth to the characters on the periphery of the plot, and you often wanted to shake Heather or ask yourself whether anyone would really have been taken in by the shallow and self centred Bea. An enjoyable, but light read, which will appeal especially to mothers who soon realise that the boardroom is nowhere near as complicated as playground politics....
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