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263 Reviews
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71 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to review
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...
Published on 10 Aug. 2006 by Ms. L. J. BEARD

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Much more of a tragedy than a romance
This story keeps your attention. It has a full plot with a number of dysfunctional characters to keep you interested. The organisation of the story was interesting, it took me the first few chapters to get used to the chopping and changing of the narrative voice and jumps in time. I wasn't surprised to find out that this was a debut novel. I think that at points it was...
Published on 22 Aug. 2007 by Miss Bookworm


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71 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to review, 10 Aug. 2006
By 
Ms. L. J. BEARD (Sussex, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: After You'd Gone (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
5.0 out of 5 stars A Proper Novel, 12 Jun. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: After You'd Gone (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
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful, moving story of loss, 8 May 2007
This review is from: After You'd Gone (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 7 Jun. 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: After You'd Gone (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
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Debut, 8 April 2006
By 
laky (England, Derby) - See all my reviews
This review is from: After You'd Gone (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
5.0 out of 5 stars A highlight of the year, 22 Sept. 2001
This review is from: After You'd Gone (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
5.0 out of 5 stars HEART-WRENCHING!, 7 Jan. 2002
By 
T. M. Nunley (Surrey, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: After You'd Gone (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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and brilliant, 12 Jan. 2004
This review is from: After You'd Gone (Paperback)
As its title suggests, After You'd Gone deals with loss, and with change in people's lives, most notably that of Alice, a young woman who has tried to commit suicide and who is now lying in hospital in a coma. As her friends and family gather round her bedside, we are taken through her life, that of her mother and that of her paternal grandmother, and we see the many intricate ways in which these three lives are interwoven.
O'Farrell writes with tremendous intelligence and sensitivity. One of the great strengths of this book is that she not only brings out what they know about themselves, but sometimes what they are not aware of also. In this respect, one of the major themes of the book is the way in which the behaviour and decisions of parents and grandparents can impact upon chidren and grandchildren, even when those actions were taken before the children were even born. And even Alice, a strong-willed and intelligent woman, cannot necessarily resist the force of history in her family.
Another aspect that O'Farrell explores is that of belonging, in particular in the context of a family. We see Alice's family, especially through the person of her mother, simultaneously trying to draw together and at the same time doing everything it can to be torn asunder. At times, her mother's behaviour is almost feral, and this picture of an Englishwoman who has found herself almost by accident in a small Scottish community is utterly convincing.
The men in the book are less prominent, but have important roles to play, and are also skillfully depicted. The difficult relationship between Alice and her mother has its counterpart in that between John, her husband, and his father, although the difficulties are of a totally different nature here.
O'Farrell is to be congratulated on a book that never avoids the difficult questions, and that seeks to show all the love and pain that can exists within a family at the same time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 10 Aug. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: After You'd Gone (Paperback)
After buying the infamous 'White Teeth' and feeling very disappointed by it, I was very nervous about buying another book in the 'talented-young-female' writer category.
But I am so glad I did. This book is amazing - the other 5 star reviews are all justified. It reminded me, oddly enough (I don't know if other reviewers saw this or maybe it's just me!) of Michael Ondaatje's 'The English Patient', a story which slowly unravels a man's lost memories and identity after a crash in WW2. Similarly, Alice has a shocking accident (or perhaps suicide attempt) and her past unfolds - though the narrative is like a stream of consciousness, swimming through the past, skipping through different time periods. At times it's quite bewildering, and each chapter brings both meaning and mystery, more clarity but more confusion. But it also makes it a very tantaslingly, thoughtful read as you start to piece her past (and parent's past) together. The writing style is beautiful - concise, poetic, addictively readable. I loved it. I know nothing about the author but I can't help feeling pleased for her when I saw her book enter the Top 40 bestsellers this week too. It's gratifying to find a novel that isn't propelled by hype, just genuine word-of-mouth. It deserves to do as well as 'White Teeth', if not better.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best and most compulsive book I've read in decades, 10 April 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: After You'd Gone (Hardcover)
There are books that make you realise you've been waiting YEARS for: this is one of them. It is the kind of book - and I know this sounds a bit over the top - that changes your life. It really does. It changes the way you look at things and people and relationships and love. Alice falls for someone she shouldn't have, but can't help it, and when she loses him her whole world cracks apart. O'Farrell skips about in time, knitting together different experiences, family secrets and alternating points of view with beautiful, astonishing prose. You never lose where or when you are. We get how she met her lover, what she was like as a child, her teen years, and what it's like "after he's gone". Alice is obstinately wonderful - as are her mother and sisters. And at the centre of the book are two shocks you absolutely never suspect and hit you in the stomach like a punch. It's funny, sad, compulsive and sexy. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant - buy it NOW.
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After You'd Gone
After You'd Gone by Maggie O'Farrell
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