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After You'd Gone (20-20 Special Edition) Paperback – 3 Apr 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review; New edition edition (3 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755330722
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755330720
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (262 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,104,059 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Maggie O'Farrell is the author of five novels, After You'd Gone, My Lover's Lover, The Distance Between Us, which won a Somerset Maugham Award, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and The Hand That First Held Mine. Born in Northern Ireland, Maggie grew up in Wales and Scotland. She lives in London with her husband and two children.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Like a pointillist painting, Maggie O'Farrell's fine debut After You'd Gone is, from one perspective, formless--short vignettes, told from multiple points of view and in multiple voices, that are somewhat puzzling on their own and apparently have no connection to each other. Ultimately, however, these elements merge into a coherent and moving portrait of a young woman's journey toward a life-threatening crisis.

In London, one cold day in late autumn, Alice Raikes impulsively boards a train home to Scotland. Shortly after joining her two sisters in the Edinburgh train station, she sees something "odd and unexpected and sickening" in the station's restroom that causes her to immediately flee back to London. Later that evening, while walking to the grocers, Alice broods over what she has seen, then abruptly steps into oncoming traffic. As she lies comatose in her hospital bed, a swirl of voices and images gradually reveals her past--her parents, especially her mother, Ann; her beloved grandmother, Elspeth; her two sisters, so unlike her, both physically and temperamentally; and John Friedman, whom she loved and lost--and hints at her precarious future.

The unnamed spectacle of the opening washroom scene resurfaces in Alice's semiconscious haze and its eventual elucidation comes as less of a shock than a confirmation of all we have learned about her tumultuous existence. Sharply observed details of everyday life and language, original and telling figures of speech and deftly handled plot twists reach a moving climax, while subtly raising the question of whether the objects of Alice's affection--and the sources of her agony--were worth enduring. --Alex Freeman --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

'An effortless read... A compulsively readable and accomplished first novel' (Lesley Glaister, Independent on Sunday)

'Such an accomplished performance... A memorable debut' (Shena MacKay, Telegraph)

'Grips the reader from its first, dramatic pages... Kept me up half the night, unable to put it down' (Mail on Sunday)

'A writer of rare insight and intellect with a feel for language that renders her love story both tender and tragic' (Financial Times)

'Dazzlingly good... When I finished it, I'm not embarrassed to say, I wept' (Big Issue)

'Deeply moving... O'Farrell textures the plot brilliantly, wrapping the bare bones in a rich flesh' (Times Metro)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Ms. L. J. BEARD on 10 Aug. 2006
Format: Paperback
To use a cliché, this was a real rollercoaster of a read. I cried and laughed in equal measures -- a novel that I had misjudged as light chick-lit turned out to be one of the best reads of my year.

The other O'Farrell books left me a little disappointed, especially "My Lover's Lover", but this novel is set above the others by its clever use of cross-cutting and changes in narration. The reader is drawn into the story by the use of second person; placing us into the role of Alice and showing us the world through her eyes, before switching to a colder third person to narrate her situation in a more abstract way.

The ending is memorable, if a little predictable, but - much like Atkinson's "Case Histories" - the numerous plotlines come together successfully to solve Alice's mystery at an emotional climax.

One of the very few books that I have finished and immediately reopened at the very first page.
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 Jun. 2001
Format: Paperback
I was becoming quite disillusioned with modern fiction - it had been over a year since I'd read what I would consider to be a 'proper' book - ie; an affecting, moving, gripping book, well-written but not over-written, poetic yet accessible and, most importantly, a page-turner. And then a friend recommended After You'd Gone and I found it. What an incredible book. It reflected back at me all the sad little thoughts and paranoid fears I have about the possibility of losing my partner and I can only imagine that Maggie O'Farrell was inspired to write this book by the strength of her feelings for her own partner. I really indentified with O'Farrell's vision of love and was deeply moved by it.
If you enjoyed this book, I would thoroughly recommend an equally well-written and touching book - Shouting at the Ship Men by Tim Geary.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By C. Williams on 8 May 2007
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books I have ever read - it is so beautifully written, so moving and sad. I've never cried as much over a book as I did reading this. I thought it was written in an original way, by telling the story through a series of flashbacks as Alice lies in a coma. It's hard to say too much without giving the story away, but I found After You'd Gone beautifully written, haunting and devastatingly sad - a story that stayed with me long after I'd finished reading the book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 Jun. 2002
Format: Paperback
This gripped me instantly because I wondered what on earth Alice had seen to make her want to kill herself. I almost gave up after that, because of the different perspectives which were confusing me, but it didn't take long before I was hooked. It's so nice to read a book with some depth amongst all the hackneyed chick-lit novels. The descriptions of Alice's grief were so heart-rending, I was moved to tears many times. Brilliant.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By laky on 8 April 2006
Format: Paperback
I had this book for a year tucked away along with a pile of other books. I came across it whilst tidying the other day. I cannot believe that I had such a great read under my nose for so long without realising. I just couldn't put this book down at all. It made me realise the important things in life. It made me question life and reasons for living. I'm sure this book will stay with me for a long time. This is the first book I have read by Maggie O'Farrell and I will be reading her others shortly. I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys books that deal with reality.
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. V. R. C. Corby on 22 Sept. 2001
Format: Paperback
I'm glad I didn't read the reviews here before I read this book - the comments about it being 'pointillist' would have made me think it was probably tiresomely literary, full of clever tricks and generally the sort of book that has me flinging it at the wall in irritation. This book is wonderful,uplifintg and leaves you with a real feeling that you've been given an insight into someone else's world. The only two books I can think of that I've read in the last year that are in the same sort of league are Tracy Chevallier's Girl With A Pearl Earring and Rosemary Tremain's Music and Silence (if you haven't read them - do). I didn't find the fragmented structure and the multiple view point in the least bit difficult to deal with (and I began reading knowing nothing at all about the book apart from a reccomendation from a friend so I wasn't prepared for anything different), and Maggie O'Farrell's language is deceptively simple, it's only afterwards that you realise the reason why this book is apparently so easy to read is because is is so, so well written. And that, to answer a previous reviewer's comment, is probably why this book hasn't swept the board as far as prizes are concerned - it isn't tricky enough, it isn't 'clever' enough and it's just too approachable and attractive - it seems that being accessible to the general public is usually enough to disqualify most books for literary prizes. More fool them, this book is truely exceptional. Read it.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By T. M. Nunley on 7 Jan. 2002
Format: Paperback
It sounds melodramatic, but this book took my heart and squeezed every drop of emotion out of it.
Having read some of the other reviews here,it seems other people have also been profoundly effected by this book - so that makes me feel slightly less embarrassed! Although one shouldn't be ashamed to be moved by such a beautifully written work of fiction anyway.
Since finishing it two days ago I've walked around physically exhausted, with a weight in my guts, as if the events described here happened to me personally.
Without giving too much away...O'Farrell has created some central characters that the reader really can fall in love his(or her)self, making the eventual outcome all the more affecting.
The small details of intimacy - such as Alice standing behind John and pulling 'shaving' faces at him in the mirror - all add up to deliver a real emotional blow as events unfold.
Although the jump in narrative from 3rd to 1st person is unexpected at first, it never 'jars' and the flow continues smoothly. A multiple perspective enhances the story, rather than distracting from it.
I think everyone will be able to relate to this poignant tale, whether they have experienced the many issues raised or not.
One word of advice: don't read this book in public - unless you don't mind complete strangers coming up and offering you wads of Kleenex!
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