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The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly
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The Poison Tree (original 2009; edition 2010)

by Erin Kelly

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4223025,093 (3.61)25
Member:tina1969
Title:The Poison Tree
Authors:Erin Kelly
Info:Hodder & Stoughton Ltd (2010), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly (2009)

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English (30)  Dutch (1)  All languages (31)
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
3.5 stars ( )
  bonniemarjorie | May 7, 2013 |
The Poison Tree was an engaging and well written 'psychological thriller' from new author Erin Kelly. I was a bit dubious in approaching this novel, not least because of the three-plus pages of recommendations at the start of the book; in my experience, such hyperbole is rarely justified.

However, the story of slightly drippy Karen and her intense friendship with Biba (wannabe actress with a nice line in personality disorder) and her slavish brother Rex, grips and is a fairly tense, if somewhat predictable page-turner. Set in the summer of 1997, it's a tale told in retrospect, with the circumstances of the protagnonists' lives set out at the start. There's murder (or more accurately manslaughter), middle class London suburbs, obsession, and intense, enmeshed relationships all sparking off a well plotted story. The female leads were fairly irritating,and I struggled to really understand the non-sexual desire that drove Karen to form the dysfunctional relationship with Biba in the first place, but Kelly's writing is assured and intelligent, and this book certainly achieves the accolade of 'exciting fiction'.

The reviews compare the work to Barbara Vine and Evelyn Waugh, and while it's not in their class, it is nevertheless a good, old fashioned page-turner. Worth a gamble.
© Koplowitz 2012 ( )
  Ant.Harrison | Apr 28, 2013 |
SPOILER possibility...proceed with caution...

I enjoyed this, and will certainly look for others by this author. As well as a story that carries you along, the writing is generously peppered with interesting observations and compelling description.

I've read other reviewer which comparing it to The Secret History, yet feeling let down when it fails to measure up as a campus novel. Not too sure where this could have arisen from, but it feels a bit unfair to me. I saw no signs that the author was attempting to retrace Donna Tartt's steps. This felt much more Barbara Vine to me, which is also excellent company to be in. The fact that the central characters happen to be students when the back-story begins is neither here nor there. They could just have easily been working in offices and/or theatres and events could have unfolded in much the same way.

So if you're after a campus novel, then this really isn't it. But if, like me, you've a soft spot for novels which are more squarely in that Vinesque territory, where a character with a secret past tries to gain greater insight into her role in terrible events from many years ago, and the way in which these events are suddenly a new threat to the life she's built from the ashes, then the Poison Tree does what it says on the tin.

There is also an ITV version, which, while also interesting in many ways, did not, in my view, really capture the most interesting elements of this novel. I had bought the book before seeing the TV version, so I then read it to compare the two. But if I hadn't already bought the book before seeing the TV version, I wouldn't have bothered, and this would have been a shame. The telly version stuck to the plot, and certainly tightened elements of it to make it into a far greater tragedy, yet simply did not have the time/space to fully mine the richness of the tragic love triangle(s) present in the novel.

However, there were things I personally found preposterous in the telly version (to give one example, without wishing to add spoilers, I will just say the NHS was actually already heavily computerised by '97). I was delighted to see that convincing groundwork had indeed been laid for these problems in the novel, and so they needn't have been in the TV version at all, had it not been for the need to fit something slightly more complex around ad breaks.

( )
  Melanielgarrett | Apr 2, 2013 |
My thoughts:
Can't believe Stephen King liked this book! and cannot believe it got such great reviews either. It was an easy read but I didn't understand the purpose, there was no red thread to follow, just a confusing story about a girl named Biba and the main character's fascination with her. Do not recommend. And it was NOTHING like Donna Tartt's The secret history! ( )
  marika.vinterhed | Jan 31, 2013 |
It is the sweltering summer of 1997, and Karen is a strait-laced, straight-A university student. When she meets the impossibly glamorous Biba, a bohemian orphan who lives in a crumbling old mansion in Highgate with her enigmatic brother Rex, she is soon drawn into their world -- but something terrible is about to happen, and someone's going to end up dead.

My Thoughts:

When I saw that ITV have done a drama on this book I had to go to my local library and pick up a copy. I am so glad that I did.

This book is a super read. Not only has it got a good story but it is full of suspense. You know from the description that two people will die, but which two ? The suspense continues right through the book till the very end and I just couldn’t put this book down.

I would highly recommend this book as it really is a page turner and a gripping thriller. ( )
  tina1969 | Dec 6, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
Although slow to start, I very much enjoyed THE POISON TREE, being pulled into the life of the central three characters over their intimate summer, in which Karen learns more about the strange circumstances of this brother and sister, and about the complexities underlying their behaviour.
added by bsiemens | editEuro Crime, Maxine Clarke (Jun 1, 2011)
 
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This book is dedicated to the father of my child
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I let the telephone fall from my hands.
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Het pad dat we kozen op zomeravonden
In de tijd dat we kinderen waren
En minnaars dachten te zijn.

'The River Road', Sean O'Brein
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
If I'm honest with myself, my fate, and hers, and the fate of the others, were sealed the second I first saw her.

I sometimes wonder if, that day, I was like one of those chicks that hatches and thinks the first person it sees is its mother — would I have taken up with anyone who offered the hand of friendship? Perhaps. But I doubt I would have fallen so hard. I met her in the afternoon, and by the evening, everything had changed...


It is the sweltering summer of 1997 when strait-laced, straight-A student Karen meets Biba — a bohemian and impossibly glamorous aspiring actress.

She is drawn to her new friend's carefree world of constant parties, and quickly abandons her old life to move into the crumbling Highgate mansion Biba shares with her brother Rex and a stream of lodgers.

For a while, life is one long summer of love.

But summer must end.

And by the end of theirs, two people would be dead...

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Picking up Rex after a ten-year prison sentence for murder, Karen remembers the bohemian summer in 1990s London when their carefree romance and excesses became subject to a complicated family history and ended in violence.

(summary from another edition)

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