Here Is the Beehive


By Sarah Crossan

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A "gutsy, modern, deeply entertaining" debut about a love affair cut short, and how lonely it is to live inside a secret (The Observer UK).
Ana Kelly can deal with death. As an estate lawyer, an unfortunate part of her day-to-day is phone calls from the next of kin informing her that one of her clients has died. But nothing could have prepared Ana for the call from Rebecca Taylor, explaining in a strangely calm tone that her husband Connor was killed in an accident.
Ana had been having an affair with Connor for three years, keeping their love secret in hotel rooms, weekends away, and swiftly deleted text messages. Though consuming, they hide their love well, and nobody knows of their relationship except Mark, Connor's best friend.
Alone and undone, Ana seeks friendship with the person who she once thought of as her adversary and opposite, but who is now the only one who shares her pain — Rebecca. As Ana becomes closer to her lover's widow, she is forced to reconcile painful truths about the affair, and the fickleness of love and desire.
Funny, frank, and strange, Sarah Crossan's moving novel is wholly original and deeply resonant.

New York Post "Novels Everyone Will be Buzzing About this Fall"
The Millions "Most Anticipated 2020" List



The only way



is to stay busy,

so I have borrowed

Anna Karenina

from my mother and will not

allow myself to cry

until I have read it.


It was ten o’clock in the morning.

My tea had cooled in the mug.

I wanted another biscuit.

I wanted to message you.

I was sorry for the argument.


Helen buzzed through.

‘I have a Mrs Taylor on the line.

She says we wrote up her husband’s will

and he’s passed. She seems fine.’

I scrolled through emails:

clients, questions,

an L. K. Bennett sale.

‘Put her through,’ I said.

I reclined in my chair,

ready to be soft, supportive.

‘Mrs Taylor, Ana Kelly speaking.

Firstly, let me say how terribly sorry I am for your loss.’

‘That’s very kind,’ she said.

On my second screen

I searched Taylor in the database.

Twenty-two clients.

‘May I ask your husband’s first name?’

‘Yes, of course, sorry. Umm…’

She was unsure,

like a name might be out of reach,

already stashed away on some high shelf.

And then.

‘Connor Mooney.

I’m his wife, Rebecca Taylor.

We have different names.’

The wife.

His wife.

Your wife.

The wife.

She had discovered us.

This was her way of getting in touch,

of punishing me,

because you were not dead,

we had spoken only days before.

I was planning to message you after lunch.

To apologise. Make things good again.

Rebecca was calling because she knew

and I needed a story to explain it.

Quick. Quick.

Think. Think.

‘He passed away on Tuesday,’ she said.

‘My brother-in-law suggested I phone.’

You’re lying, you fucking cunt bitch,

I didn’t say.

You’re fucking lying, you bitch cunt,

I didn’t say.

I said, ‘Goodness, I’m so sorry.

That’s awful news.

I have his details here in front of me.

We drew up the will a few years ago.’

My hands hadn’t moved.

I was scanning the list of Taylors.

Keith, Leonard, Meaghan-Leah.

In my throat was an ache, hot and heavy.

My right hand twitched even as I clutched

the desk to steady it.

I didn’t believe her.

‘The funeral is a fortnight this Friday.’

‘Thank you for calling.

You must have a great deal on your plate.

And please don’t worry about the legal end of things

unless there’s a problem paying for the funeral.’

‘That won’t be an issue,’ she said defensively.

‘Well then, I’ll call you afterwards.

You could

come into the office, perhaps.’

‘I’ll wait to hear from you.’

She spoke like we were arranging a dental appointment,

with a calm I could not understand,

yet similar to every bereaved spouse I’d known,

setting aside grief for the brief moments of legal dealings.

I took shallow breaths.

‘Do you know how to register the death?’

‘My brother-in-law is dealing with that.’

She coughed hard into the phone.

I wondered whether she was wearing black.

‘As executors to his will

we can assist with administration, so do ask.’

Rebecca coughed again.

I considered asking if she was sure.



No doubt.

Maybe it was someone else.

‘Is there any more I can do for you, Ms Taylor?’

She paused.

Was she going to confess to the joke?

None of it was true. Was it?

You were going to call minutes later,

frantic and found-out.

‘No. Thank you though,’ she said.

‘One last question. How did he die?’ I asked.

Rebecca told me, briefly, all about it.

And I told her, quietly, how upsetting it sounded

and how impossible it was to be without him.

‘Yes,’ she said.

I ended the call

and bought a pair of shoes in the online sale.

Purple suede. Pointy toes.



Then I did something

very bad

and got back to work.

Tell me.

What would you have done?

It is contrarily cold.

I am wearing a cashmere cardigan

over a long grey dress,

a vest beneath.

It is a Marks and Spencer look:

high-street ordinary,

plain to the point of being a blur.

I caught myself in the mirror

on the way out today,

hated the woman

you would see if

you sat up and took a look around.

Wouldn’t that be just like you?

To spy

and later

perform a post-mortem of the service –

fidgeting children,

the state of your mother’s face,

thoughts on how I behaved,

the analysis exhaustive:

I liked your hair up.

You should always wear lipstick.

Could you see from the back?

I haven’t eaten in fifteen days.

I haven’t seen you in twenty.

I don’t know when I’ll next have an appetite.

I won’t ever see you again.

I am as thin as I was at the beginning,

when every duplicity

pitched my guts.

You would say I look fine.

But I do not.

It has been noticed.

The partners seem worried,

like I might not outlive my clients’ muddles.

Nora bought me a bottle of Floradix.

Tanya asked if I was pregnant.

The sun is straining through the clouds

and it should defeat them

because it is July after all.

I am holding on tight to a bunch of white carnations.

You never mentioned a fondness for flowers

but soon you shall be carpeted in

brightly petalled

dying colour

as a mark of love.

How do you smell now?

Are your nails long?

St Mary’s car park is crowded.

I cannot see your coffin.

But I see Rebecca,

your boys,

all staring into nowhere.

We plan for death,

make sensible decisions while gorging on life.

But no one intends to die.

When you wandered into my office

three years ago,

you never thought

I would have to confront your family’s grief,

or my own.

You thought you had forever to make mistakes

and make amends.

Your sons are dressed in suits,

standing in a row like a little black staircase.

I turn my back on them.

I am not responsible for their sadness

though that’s what I’ve wanted.

Wouldn’t it have been better than this?

Wouldn’t it have been better my way?

‘Will Mrs Mooney be writing up a will with us?’ I asked.

You were in trainers for that first meeting,

an overcoat better donated to charity than worn.

‘My wife didn’t take my name and

I’m pretty sure she’s made meticulous plans

for her own death.

My death too, probably.’

Your laughter filled up all the space,

right into the dusty nooks.

We went through it:

personal data,



I knew your entire life fifty minutes after we’d met,

while you knew nothing of me

apart from where I’d been to university:

I spotted you studying my walls –

certificates of accomplishment,

praise for a girl I scarcely remembered.

She was ambitious,

liked Manic Street Preachers,

sucked off her jurisprudence professor for a first.

Silly girl.

At the end, you loitered,

traced circles

on the desk

with your thumb

and, grinning somewhat, said,

‘I guess I’ll be back for the divorce.’

I lidded my pen,

left a space for you to speak.

It was January after all,

a busy month for break-ups and

scrounging around for grounds

after the hellish togetherness of Christmas.

‘We’re here for anything you need,’ I said.

I wasn’t being suggestive.

I was a professional

with certificates on the wall to prove it.

A Bristol graduate.

‘My colleague Tanya Kushner

is an experienced family lawyer.

I can ask the receptionist to make an appointment.’

‘Oh, Rebecca would never let me go.

Who’d put petrol in her car?’

You rose.

‘Once the will is ready you can

pop back in and sign it,’ I said.

‘We’ll provide witnesses.’

‘How lavish! I look forward to it.’

You put on the tatty coat.

A bottle of Ribena poked out of a pocket.

‘Are you Irish? With the surname Kelly you must be.

Unless you married particularly well.’

‘I was going to ask you the same.’

‘Both parents from Meath. Yours?’

‘Mum is from Cork.

Dad is from Cavan.

No one can pinpoint which town.

We all agree he was running from something.’

‘Aren’t we all?’ You winked then shuffled,

ashamed to have done it,

reaching for the door handle.

‘Have a good afternoon.’

I ate lunch alone at the Subway a few doors down.

A slice of cucumber fell on to my lap and

I noticed a ladder in my tights,

was glad I’d been sitting for most of our meeting,

was worried you’d spot me in Subway.

So you see,

even that first day you were

slinking around


stirring things up.



I didn’t think much more about you until we met by chance

two weeks later.

You were with Rebecca.

And, oh,

she was everything.

How can we know which days

will be the turning points?

So long as we live,

we gamble.



Put it all on Number 11.

A man is by my side. ‘Ana?’

He is handsome. Bearded. ‘Mark?’

‘Jesus. Is it a good idea for you to be here?’

Mourners in cars search for spaces,

ways to reach the crematorium

without having to cross the road and

traipse the length of the cemetery.

A woman strides towards us and relinquishes a child

like it’s nothing more than a bag of groceries.

‘He needs changing.

I’m getting a lift with Sheena,’ she tells Mark.

I hold out my hand to her but she is gone already.

We watch her go.

‘I’m sorry,’ he says. ‘It must be…

I don’t have a clue how it must be.

Shit, I suppose.

I’ve thought about you a lot.

How you’re doing.

But you shouldn’t have come.

Did Rebecca spot you?’

‘Does it matter?’ I ask.

He pats the child, who gurgles something

combining complaint with contentment.

‘I better deal with this one.’

Beneath my feet,

wet leaves cling to the tarmac.

The air smells of evaporating rain.

In the block of council flats

next to the presbytery,

a girl is waving from a top floor window

as though we have all come to see her.

In her arms, a naked baby.

‘Meet me,’ I say.

The church bell tolls twelve.

Cars edge away.

You will be smoked,

nothing but ash in an hour.

I will still be in this cashmere. In these tights.

Later I will load a washing machine,

measure detergent into a plastic lid.

‘I can’t,’ Mark says. ‘Meet you, I mean. I can’t.’

‘You’re the only person who knew about us.

I have no one else to talk to.’

He clicks his tongue,

looks suddenly young, accused and guilty.

‘I have to think about it.

Rebecca’s in bits,’ he says.

Before I can ask why that’s relevant

he scurries off,

velvety vomit

dribbling down the back of

his trench coat.




People in pieces all over the place.

I was ordering

another bottle of

Rioja from the bar,

Tanya shouting for peanuts,

and there you were,

fingertips on my wrist. ‘Hello.’

I didn’t recognise you in the suit,

shaven and smelling of influence,

and was bored of swatting men away.

I retrieved my hand from the bar,

wanted to get back to plotting with Tanya,

making plans to start up on our own:

Kelly and Kushner Solicitors.

‘I’m Connor. I was in your office a few weeks ago.’

I liked your eyebrows,

your teeth, the canines jutting forward just slightly.

‘A trust dispute!’ I announced.

‘Last will and testament,’ you corrected.

From the fug of noise

Rebecca emerged,

pale-lipped in a Patrick Swayze T-shirt.

She had the arms of a tennis player,

the mouth of a politician.

‘Rebecca, this is Ana Kelly. My solicitor.’

I was tipsy.


I was tipsy and nothing was rooted to the spot.

I wanted you to hold me up,

help me back to the table,

sit with me

and divulge everything you had ever been.

I stopped myself leaning in

and resting my head against your chest.

I wanted Rebecca to be more obvious.

‘My boozy friend’s waiting for wine,’ I pointed.

‘We’ll get our drinks and join you,’ Rebecca said flatly.

‘No other bloody seats.’

Tanya rolled her eyes, opened the Uber app.

‘They look like the fucking Muswell Hill set.

I can’t sit and listen to the merits

of Ed Sheeran and oat milk all night.’

‘Ten minutes,’ I promised.

I hoped it would be longer.

You wandered over,

waving the peanuts

I’d left on the bar.

Rebecca sat on my left,

you on my right,

and she told us about the house you’d redesigned.

You were the architect,

she worked on interiors.

It had all been ‘taxing beyond’

but ‘God, so worth it.’

Rebecca had a way of simpering

when she spoke that gulped all the

elegance from her face;

I gazed into my glass, embarrassed by it.

You didn’t look at her much,

didn’t touch those lean arms,

instead described a deprived Catholic childhood

and subsequent rise to success

in a forged Irish accent

that made me order more wine.

You’d grown up on the Haringey Ladder,

went to St Aloysius,

which, even back then, was a road to better things.

I’d dated a boy from the same school,

one I’d met in confirmation classes

who couldn’t understand his own hard-ons,

apologised for them and repeated over and over,

It’ll deflate in a tick

It’ll deflate in a tick.

And you knew St Michael’s Grammar,

where I trekked each day from Wood Green

to get my holier-than-thou education.

‘So you were a smarty-pants then?’ you said.

I nodded.

Tanya yawned.

Rebecca adjusted her wristwatch.

‘What were your sixth-form haunts?’ you asked.

‘Donnelly’s in Turnpike Lane mainly.

They sold only booze and crackers.’

‘They did!’

‘And there was the one and only

O’Rafferty’s with Shebeen out back.

I loved that place.’

‘I worked there!’ You half stood to announce this.

‘What a dive!’ I screeched,

knowing your pride wasn’t about where you were from

but who you were now,

how different it all looked.

And I was your witness.            Rebecca your prize.

‘It’s all boarded up now, you know.

To let. When I drive past

I get sentimental for some reason.’

‘Do you live close to it?’ you asked.

‘Not far. Ally Pally. Still trying to escape North London.

Well, I did leave for uni but came back.

Remind me where you guys live.’

Rebecca was tapping her teeth

against the rim of her empty wine glass.

‘Hampstead Garden Suburb,’ she said sharply.

When Tanya got bored of being ignored

and eyeballed me,

we made our excuses.

‘Christ, she’s dull,’ Tanya said, walking me to the bus stop.

‘He’s alright though.’

‘A bit of alright, you mean.

And he likes you.

Hampstead Garden Suburb though?

Basically they’re from East Finchley. Tossers.’

Undeterred by the time or my heels,

I walked part of the way home,

the whole length of Fortis Green

until the balls of my feet throbbed,

and, taking my shoes off in the hallway, I thought,

Connor Mooney, I like you too.

‘Sorry I’m late,’ I say.

‘Anything important come up?’

Tanya scampers out of her office looking horrified.

‘What’s with the burka?’

‘It’s from Cos.’

‘I didn’t know they sold burkas.’

I pull off the tights and dump them in Helen’s bin.

She is wearing earphones and hasn’t noticed my arrival.

‘I had a thing,’ I say.

‘Fair enough. But Graham was going mental.

Apparently you missed an important client meeting.

I said you had a migraine. He wasn’t buying it.’

‘I forgot we’d rearranged that.’

Tanya has a look that is new:


almost benign.

‘Your roots need doing.

You look like crap.’

Helen unplugs herself, sees me.

‘You had about a million calls.

Everyone seems to be dying.

And you missed a client.’

Those who loved you, or liked you,

or with whom you were mildly acquainted,

are gathered together while you burn.


  • “Told in verse, this story of obsession and illicit love reads like a thriller.”—People Magazine
  • “A gripping exploration of obsession, risk, and loss.”—The Millions
  • “It flows as easily as honey . . . and it accomplishes a stream-of-consciousness feel that conveys both how quickly grief can shatter a person and how those shattered pieces still connect.”—Washington Post
  • "Here is the Beehive is a psychologically-complex masterpiece. Twisty, deep, and ultimately devastating, this one is impossible to put down."—Sarah Dunn, author of The Arrangement
  • "A fresh, affecting take on a tale as old as time."—Kirkus Reviews
  • “If you love Sally Rooney and Ottessa Moshfegh, you’ll devour this strange story.”—HelloGiggles
  • "An eviscerating account of modern marriage."—The Independent (UK)
  • "Beautifully written ... in stunning, spare lyrical prose, which appears like verse on the page. . . . This mesmerizing story will have readers hooked."—Publishers Weekly
  • "This book is just sublime . . . I loved every page."—Caitriona Balfe, star of Outlander
  • "This exquisitely well-balanced novel-in-verse is painful to read yet almost impossible to put down. . . . Each character is fully realized, with even walk-on characters brought vividly to life with a few deft words."—School Library Journal
  • "Gutsy, modern, deeply entertaining . . . unlike anything I’ve read before. . . . The writing is so bright and alive and the novel is a triumph -- crackling with psychological and sexual ambiguity."—The Observer (UK)
  • “Amazing . . . I absolutely love the form, which breathes new life into a familiar story making it both more elegant and more brutal.”—Emma Healey, author of Elizabeth is Missing
  • “One of our most original writers.”—John Boyne, author of A Ladder to the Sky
  • "Sarah Crossan is a truly masterful writer. . . . fascinating, gloriously written and completely unique."—PRIMER

On Sale
Nov 17, 2020
Page Count
288 pages

Sarah Crossan

About the Author

Sarah Crossan has lived in Dublin, London and New York, and now lives in Brighton. She graduated with a degree in philosophy and literature before training as an English and drama teacher at Cambridge University. Sarah has won many international awards for her verse novels, including the CILIP Carnegie Medal, the CBI Book of Year award and the CLiPPA Poetry Award. 

Learn more about this author