Aspen Times Weekly book review: ‘The Hive’ |

Aspen Times Weekly book review: ‘The Hive’

by Vivien Zec on behalf of the Aspen Writers’ Foundation

Female friendships are the focus of Gill Hornby’s first novel, “The Hive.” A group of mothers are trying to make a difference in their children’s school. They have a series of fundraisers leading to extravagant disasters, such as the “party-tent-turning-into-a-pond” episode. These reveal the different personalities of the characters in the novel, who deliciously display their contempt for one another. The reigning mother of the “hive” is Bea: not only within school functions, but also within their personal lives. Bea fights to be the leader and the most admired for all the rest to see. She wants to be heralded in school meetings with the schoolmaster when rehashing the results of a recent fundraiser. When the recognition is announced for “one person in particular whose efforts were quite simply astonishing,” Bea is already accepting it before realizing Mrs. Green is the recipient.

Bea’s former best friend, Rachel, separates herself from Bea, thereby revealing how truly cliquish the group of mothers has become.

“The Hive” maintains a healthy dose of humor within the mothers’ characters. The novelist’s British impersonations of the characters are hilarious — “the sheer bloody cheek of it” and “her invitation-only sodding lunch.” “The Hive” is a refreshing read because the Brits have perfectly constructed sentences, so enviably precise.

Friendship, motherhood, divorce and marriage — these are the relationships Hornby touches upon in her novel. Hornby writes in a way in which the reader can easily relate to the characters’ struggles with one another, whether you’re a mother or not.

“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.