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The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly

The Poison Tree (original 2009; edition 2010)

by Erin Kelly

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4613122,528 (3.6)28
Title:The Poison Tree
Authors:Erin Kelly
Info:Hodder & Stoughton Ltd (2010), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover
Collections:Read but unowned

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The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly (2009)

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  1. 00
    The Secret History by Donna Tartt (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Something disturbing sometimes happens when young people congregate. These gothic tales feature young, bohemian, and intellectual characters becoming caught up in relationships that lead to tragic results.
  2. 00
    The Likeness by Tana French (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: In both of these emotionally complex, brooding novels of psychological suspense, the female character at the center becomes entangled in a bohemian lifestyle, only to find it's rather more difficult to disengage. Both also feature multi-faceted characters and ever-increasing tension.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
An interesting story, although after a while I found it hard to accept that the female teller of the story, her boyfriend who was brother of the other female main character, remained blind to the weakness of and selfishness of his sister from the moment the two women met, right up until the drastic finale. It offered a view of the non-caring and egotistical belief of someone who accepted that scatterbrained and impossible behavior was a god-given right. The misguided reason why a brother thought his sister's willful behavior must be constantly forgiven and defended for so many years was too unbelievable in the end - especially when he let himself be sentenced to twenty years in prison for a murder she committed, and didn't seem to accept any responsibility for thereafter.
No doubt there are very colorful characters everywhere, but the irresponsible and often hurtful conduct illustrated in this story would ultimately lead to losing the friendship of any relative or friend who is half-way 'normal'. People generally have a limit to what they condone, and loving someone does not stop one's brains musing over what is actually right or wrong. The story was well written and it's a pity that the author didn't spend more time figuring out a plot that showed more strength of character and more reality than I read about here. ( )
  dragonflydancing | May 24, 2015 |
I rated this book more on personal enjoyment than content. This book wasn't for me; I found myself skim reading a lot. ( )
  Tarklovishki | Oct 31, 2014 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 31 (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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So ging's mit uns an Sommerabenden in Zeiten, da wir Kinder waren und dachten, Liebende zu sein. "The River Road", Sean O'Brien
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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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
Karen reflects on the summer of 1997, when she went from being a college student on the verge of graduation to spending time with her new rebellious friend Biba and dating Biba's brother, Rex, while Karen and her nine-year-old daughter, Alice, pick up Rex from prison ten years after that summer, when he has finished serving his sentence for murder.
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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.

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