You know that rule some people have about reading 50 pages of a book and deciding whether to put it down or continue with it? Well I’m not sure if this would have made it if I were a stickler to that rule. Actually, writing that, I’m not sure exactly which page it was that made me realize I liked this book. But I do know that I mostly muddled my way through the first lot of pages. The narration confused me a little. Multiple points of view, different periods of time. It was as if the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle were in front of me, but I didn’t have the faintest idea what the picture was. It didn’t help that I read part of it after the 430/5 am feedings, using the night mode on the Bluefire ereader app.
But there was something about Alice. When she meets her John and they muddle their way into a relationship. There’s something about his doggedness, her seeming initial reluctance to be a part of it, then it grows into that sweetness of love, bolstered by their determination to be together despite disapproval. Their immense, heady, head-in-the-clouds love. That was what made me want to carry on. That was what took my own heart a little bit. This relationship, this character of Alice, these things creep under your skin and
The story begins with Alice, heading out on the train to Edinburgh to see her sisters. But something happens and she decides to head back to London. She steps out into the street and is hit by a car. As she lies in a coma in hospital, the narrative, as I had mentioned earlier*, flits from the present to the past, unravelling the circumstances that have led up to this day. This involves her mother, her grandmother, her sisters, and her John.
This story has stayed with me, and everytime I think of it, I feel strangely overwhelmed. There is so much emotion and sentiment in this story. Perhaps it’s a little melodramatic, but it is very moving, and beautifully and sharply written.
I look up O’Farrell’s bibliography and realised that this was her first novel. I can’t wait to read the rest of her books!
Title: After You’d Gone
Author: Maggie O’Farrell (Author’s website)
Published in: 2000
Bibliography:After You’d Gone (2000)
My Lover’s Lover (2002)
The Distance Between Us (2004)
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox (2006)
The Hand That First Held Mine (2010)
* Sorry sorry. This post has turned out to be one of those, start it one day, finish it a week later types!