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Then Paperback – 14 Jun 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (14 Jun. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099554720
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099554721
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 22,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Julie Myerson is the author of seven novels, including the bestselling Something Might Happen, and three works of non-fiction, including Home: The Story of Everyone Who Ever Lived In Our House, which was dramatised on BBC Radio 4 and her most recent book, The Lost Child. She lives in London and Suffolk with her husband and teenage children.

(Photo credit: Chloe Myerson)

Product Description


"This is writing that takes the breath away... I cannot praise this staggeringly accomplished work highly enough" (Virginia Blackburn Sunday Express)

"Then is a bold, uncompromising book that marks out Myerson as a truly interesting and risk-taking author... grippingly good" (Elizabeth Day Observer)

"Julie Myerson offers a haunting twist on Armageddon... A chillingly persuasive vision of emotional hell" (Adrian Turpin Financial Times)

"An addictively readable feat of imagination" (Lionel Shriver)

"A daring and dazzling performance" (John Harding Daily Mail)

Book Description

An astonishing, apocalyptic new novel, from the author of Something Might Happen.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kat on 5 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback
Then is not a post-apocalyptic survival story. The apocalyptic event, which is never fully explained, that led to London becoming a frozen wasteland sets the scene for the story, but this is far more a literary mystery than a story of survival.

The writing style itself is quite difficult to get used to - it's quite bleak and time shimmers between the past and the present from paragraph to paragraph - this is a book that I had to pay real attention to, otherwise I would have been constantly lost.

Isobel has survived the event, simply described only as an unseasonably hot day that after a flash of light turns the world cold, and is sheltering in an office building with a man, and three teenagers. Having lost her memory, and continuing to have some kind of amnesia, she initially has no recollection of the event, or even of what has occurred just hours before. She is not particularly likable as a character, mainly because she has no memories to form a personality, likes or dislikes, and as she cannot remember nor really even distinguish between dreams and reality, she has an almost ghost-like quality.

Other characters fade in and out as the story progresses, and the whole book has a very ethereal but disjointed feeling. The ending is particularly poignant, but this book has no real resolution, which almost makes it a little bit too clever for its own good. This is not a fun read, nor action-packed, but I did like the ghostly, discombobulated feel. Yep, I've been waiting years to use that word!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Andy Phillips on 4 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback
I'm not sure if I think this is a good book or not. On one hand I didn't enjoy it and it was quite confusing at times, but on the other it was original and interesting.

The book is centred around an amnesiac woman who is sheltering in a London office building with a few other survivors of an undefined apocalyptic event that leaves the whole city a frozen wasteland. She remembers almost nothing about her past life or the people she is with. It is gradually revealed how she came to be there and more-or-less who she is.

The style of the book is very spartan, with little punctuation (rather like 'The Road' but with breaks for paragraphs etc). This adds to the atmosphere but punctuation is used for a reason, and the lack of it doesn't make the text easy to read sometimes. The story is also very slow to get going, with almost nothing happening in each scene. This gives the feeling of the woman's memory gradually returning in a way that draws the reader in, but can be a bit tedious.

Finally, I pretty much predicted the ending (if you can call it an ending) and I'm still not sure what was real and what was imagined. Maybe that's the point, but I found it frustrating and I can't really see the point of it all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk on 12 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm about two-thirds of the way through and I've had these thoughts in my head for some time and I feel I need to record them now.
Everyone keeps saying how gripping this book is, how disturbing, how powerful but I don't quite feel this the same way. It's not so gripping that I can't put it down but it IS fascinating. It's not so disturbing that I feel upset by it - for apocalypses it's good but also a bit tame; they're cold but not freezing, they're hungry but not driven to cannibalism, their world is falling apart yet there is a lot less chaos and brutality than I would expect. Pardon the pun but for an apocalypse it's a bit cold and distracted.
No, what IS fascinating about this story is the way it makes me feel like I'm in someone's mind; her mind. Her world has fallen apart. This cold, colourless landscape reflects her inability to feel emotions - she comes across as cold, confused... lost. Her "ghosts" or "hallucinations" or "flashbacks" are the product of a broken mind. And that's what makes the book disturbing - to be inside a broken mind. How much IS illusion, how much real? You feel something terrible has happened (and I'm not just talKing about the end of the world!). She's done something terrible - or has she? Is she blaming herself? Does she feel that somehow she's caused all this? All is confused yet has a structure... We ARE in a true wilderness here, the detritus and chaos of a broken mind...
And that is what makes this a truly brilliant bit of writing - the fact that it can draw these feelings, these questions, out of me - the fact that it can make me think about what all this is REALLY about...

And now I've finished I have nothing more to say
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By smartesthorse on 20 Sept. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I keep hoping Julie Myerson will write another book as good as 'Something might Happen' This is not it. That is not because it is difficult, challenging or bleak, all of which it is, it is because to me, in my opinion, it does not really get into that place we all long for a writer to take us. It is hard for me to describe this, but what I mean is whether its 'just' a thriller or an airport novel for the time that I am reading a book I want to be out of myself, unaware of my own present reality and enthralled.
'Then' is set in a broken and semi deserted frozen London, the great monuments to greed, the shiny towers of the City are empty, more than that cannot be said partly for spoiler reasons and partly because a lot of things are not clear. The opening sentence is as follows' Sometimes in the middle of winter, the temperature drops so low that animals bite off their own tails and small birds come falling down out of the sky.'

I love that sentence and was excited and expected something scintillating but the rest of the book does not live up to the expectations either in story or character
There is a lot about mother love as in other Myserson novels the agony of it and what lengths a mother will go to in the name of love, in this case unspeakable lengths.There are bitingly agonising description of all manner of suffering by human and animals and me it didn't work. It obviously worked for others I have read their reviews and know of their tears but to me it doesn't cut it.

There is a lot of sparse but clever prose but I felt distanced I want to be immersed in a book not constantly feeling I should admire this smart metaphor or that intricate little piece of description. The writing style is too much for the substance. I am not dismissing this novel but I would say it is of unusually narrow appeal. it seems like a laboratory experiment by the author which I hope is not repeated
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