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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very thought provoking
I bought this book after reading a rave review in the paper, it was I have to agree with the review a fantastic debut novel, Evie Wylde writes beautifully and gives a real insight into that part of Australia, the war and the patterns that emerge from dysfunctional family life, very interesting and different.
The reason I deduct a star is because sometimes you have to...
Published on 26 Oct 2009 by L. Jennings

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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant read, more clarity needed?
I read this book after seeing that it was advertised as the `Booktrust online reading group' choice for September 2010.

The book follows the lives of two men, Frank and Leon; both live in Australia and are separated in time by several decades. Leon is principally followed during the Vietnamese War period, whilst Frank lives in present times. The theme of the...
Published on 8 Oct 2010 by J. Cooper


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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very thought provoking, 26 Oct 2009
I bought this book after reading a rave review in the paper, it was I have to agree with the review a fantastic debut novel, Evie Wylde writes beautifully and gives a real insight into that part of Australia, the war and the patterns that emerge from dysfunctional family life, very interesting and different.
The reason I deduct a star is because sometimes you have to really concentrate to keep up with the fast introduction of many characters at the same time and the fact that the main characters jump location frequently.
I would definitely read another book by this author though, didn't expect the connection at the end and thought the way you are left to make your own conclusions was clever rather than frustrating which can often be the case.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A zinger of a novel., 20 Sep 2009
By 
R. Maas (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
So rare to find a book so free of cliche, and not stitched together by a cut-and-paste stylist. Full of wonderfully original descriptions that describe sensations and emotions precisely, and as if they are yours. A tale of brilliant images bleached by the Aussie sun, with a plot fringed with dark threats that lurk in memories or wait, nameless, hidden in the corn....
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Debut of Things Left Unsaid, 28 Dec 2009
By 
Simon Savidge Reads "Simon" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
`After the Fire, A Still Small Voice' is actually the tales of two separate men told in alternating chapters living in Australia told both in the present and in the past and not always in chronological order yet never confusing. It is really hard to tell you all about it without giving anything away but do bear with me as I will try and do my best without any spoilers and yet trying to cover everything that this wonderful book does.

The first of the men we meet is Frank. Having recently given up his life in Canberra after a rather rocky relationship he has moved to his Grandparents shack by the sea in an attempt to hide away from the world which he will have to live off, though in the end the world won't remain hidden, neighbours will be friendly, and he will need money and so takes a part time job in the local marina. Franks a tough character and as we get to know him better and the story of his youth, though he is only in his twenties roughly, you gain an insight into why.

Leon is the second male character. We meet him in his youth in a town, where his family are looked down on for being immigrants, as he learns the trade of his father's cake shop which when his father is sent to fight in Korea he must take over until his father comes back. Once his father returns he is a changed man and adds additional strain to the family home leaving Leon in charge for good. Only Leon himself then gets conscripted to fight in the Vietnam War and like his father the affects of war change him forever.

This makes the book sound quite simplistic and it's not the case as Wyld throws in quite a few other plots such as a delightful romance for Leon and a wonderful tale of a little girl breaking through Frank's tough exterior. To say anymore would simply give too much away. I thought that is was remarkable that Wyld gets so deeply into two male lead characters, especially with two such complex, emotionally scarred and sometimes quite dislikeable characters. I wasn't sure this book would be for me for the first two chapters and then I was hooked and read it in three sittings. Through these two men's viewpoints I went on an emotion filled journey through loss, love, war, discrimination, and also most importantly I felt, hope.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharks and chickens, 6 Oct 2009
By 
I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a book this much. I took After the Fire on holiday with me last month and rattled through it in a couple of sittings, then had to face up to the fact that I wasn't going to read anything that good again for the rest of my time away. And probably for the rest of the year.

The book follows two main characters and at first I had that feeling of leaning towards one of them and not caring as much about the other, but by the midpoint I was totally engrossed in both. Other reviewers have written about the book's ability to convey things that aren't spoken, and it is very good at the quiet intensity of unspoken emotion. But I was also blown away by the jungle warfare, the bar brawls, the blokes working in good honest backbreaking jobs and the shark encounter. And there's something going on with chickens too, but maybe I'm reading too much into that.

I've given the book five stars but I can't recommend it highly enough. Just brilliant.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Depth without being a heavy read, 1 Aug 2010
By 
Alison "runninggirlcycling" (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
There is so much in this book that in many ways it is difficult to describe without over-simplifying it. Wyld's debut is complex while still being subtle, it has depth without being heavy and the suberb quality of the writing makes it very readable. The character of Australia is prominent and Wyld describes the Australian landscape vividly and beautifully. She uses metaphor and symbolism to make this an original book that doesn't fit the mould of so many other books.

The chapters alternate between Leon and Frank. Leon is growing up around the time of the Korean war and witnesses the after effects of war on his father. Leon himself is conscripted to fight in the Vietnam war when he becomes an adult. Frank's story is told in the present day and picks his story up as he moves to his family's beach shack to recover after the breakdown of his relationship. The traumas and tensions that the men experience shape their lives and the relationships with the people around them.

There are many themes explored but those of family, particularly fatherhood, are strong and thought provoking. While the book is ostensibly very male, it's not a certainly not book reserved for the male reader. I would imagine that this book would make an excellent book club choice as there is so much to think and talk about. I wouldn't hesitate to pick up the next book by Evie Wyld and I would highly recommend After the Fire for the reader who likes modern and contemporary fiction.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For readers who appreciate the puzzle of life, 18 Nov 2012
Sublime. Two stories intertwined, each as interesting as the other (despite being in different eras and settings) and each satisfyingly revealed with a psychological canniness that lets the reader see loneliness and life's damage, as well as its balms. The setting and subject are strong, but other reviewers have mentioned them. The arid landscape plays a part, visually and metaphorically. As with all the language, Wyld gets the weight of the elements just right--on her first time out.

People often say of debuts that they promise great things. While I'm keen to see where this writer will go next, I have no problem recommending After the Fire as a great book now.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving tale, beautifully written, 17 May 2011
By 
I suggested this for my book group after seeing it on the 12 best debut novels TV programme on World Book Night. Haven't yet heard what my friends thought, but I loved it. Evie Wyld writes in a beautifully poetic way about some very ugly things in this book. Very evocative picture of Australia, and quite different to the holiday postcard cliches we're used to (doesn't make me want to swim in the sea there !) In fact, the only reason I withheld a star despite enjoying it so much is because the quality of the writing threatened to get in the way of the story at times. Despite the easily imagined tension of the father-son relationship based on things which are shown of them separately, I would still have liked a few scenes showing them together during Frank's childhood, at the end, or even both. I thought Lucy's question 'what can he have done that's so unforgiveable ?' after she'd excluded the usual horrors of child abuse (I'm paraphrasing but it was something like that)hinted at something in particular that we were going to see or hear about, and I was a bit disappointed that it never came. I had to re-read the last chapter to fully get the ending for Frank.
But it's often said that really great writing compensates for holes in the story, and that is definitely true of this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars War and its aftermath, 12 Jan 2011
This is a novel about the effects of war on all those involved in it. We meet three men--three generations of men--whose otherwise unremarkable lives are destroyed by three wars--world war 2, Korea and Vietnam. We see how those to whom two of these men return do not want to know about war. We see how these men gradually turn in on themselves and away from their families. And so the destruction of the next generation is set in motion. To me, all the other events in this story are second to this essential theme. There are others. The attitude, still present, of so many Australians to those who have come to that country seeking refuge, seeking a new life, a better life. The attitude, also still present, of, dare I say it, most European Australians to the Aborigenes. And, oddly enough in this book on the lives of three men, the sad and frustrating lives being lead still by so many Australian women.
Evie Wyld's description of the landscape is brilliant. The emptiness, the loneliness and the fear inspired by such fierce beauty are palpable---an emptiness and loneliness that spill over into the suburbs of Sydney. Thank you, Evie Wyld, for returning me to the country of my origin--in your novel I recognise myself.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Everyone dies mate", 14 Nov 2009
Wyld's meditative novel on the nature of loneliness and the broken promises of family begins as Frank Collard travels from Canberra to a small town on the Eastern part of Australia, leaving behind his life after breaking up with his girlfriend. A frustrated and disconsolate man, Frank makes a new home for himself in his grandparents 1950's dilapidated shack deep amidst the cane fields, the dirt roads and the sand dunes of this isolated but beautiful place. Reveling in his land, the good memories and a bit of a change of scene Frank basks in his new-found natural freedom, swimming off the rocks, while soaking up his surroundings, the pale sky and the morning dew, the gurgling troops of magpies and the blue gums, and the smell of hot eucalyptus.

Eve as Frank makes repairs on the shack's rust-bitten roof, he connects with a local couple Bob Haydon, his wife Vicky and their daughter, the seven-year-old Sal who helps Frank plant a vegetable garden and also helps him feed his two adopted chickens. To be sure Frank is attracted to the easy laughs of this family who eke out a living from fixing up cars and keeping chooks. Continually suffering the effects of a hangover, Frank remembers as his father as he pours his mother's ashes into the sea, the memories coming to him, the old ones he thought he's finished with.

Meanwhile, Frank's father Leon still bears the emotional wounds inflicted by his time in Vietnam, the memories a discomfort and a steady reminder of that conflict. We first meet Leon when he's a young boy, helping his parents run their cake shop in Parramatta. The son of Jewish Italian immigrants, Leon is the only boy in his year at school with a hairy face and feels distinctly out of place in this Anglo-Saxon world Australia in the 1950`s, where the British National anthem is constantly hummed even tough Leon's father thinks he's more Australian than anything else. It is Leon who is forced to shoulder the burdens of the business, acting as a caretaker and building the cake top statues and his father and mother both become distant, and trapped, caught up in the effects of the Korean War.

This very same Leon will be transformed by his youth as his father returns often glassy-eyed and drunk and his mother, her eyes full of liquid tells her son that "he's always been a fragile man, even before the war." Both eventually escape to the isolated cabin to spend their final days. Meanwhile, Frank becomes a sort of cipher for much of Leon's life, a son who eventually drifted apart from his father. When a young local girl goes missing, Frank is branded as the predator when he takes off in his rusted ute, traveling to the town of Roedale ,a mixed bag of dust and meat, to try to reconnect with his father who has becomes a born again Bible seller.

Throughout Frank and Leon's journey, Wyld paints in minute detail the vast Australian landscapes, with the butcher birds gargling into the heavens, the flocks of spoonbills, and the blue gums shifting around. She also graphically brings to life the small and dusty sea-side towns where the locals are tough, weather-beaten and compliant, especially men like Linus, a soft old aboriginal man who works at the marina where Frank attempts to find work. A bit older than usual Linus remembers Frank's grandparents, especially his grandmother and "the sugar figure in the wedding dress."

While Frank and Leon are ultimately unable to connect, Frank finds much to love in his isolation, and finds himself collecting a few new mates along the way. Leon finds solace in his own way, locked in a small town, his tale is mostly one of brokenness, loss and the slow healing that remains after war and death have had their due. His time spent in the silent desert, "as red as the hip bone of the landscape" is a measure of how far Leon travels to escape. The author captures the essence of the Australian life and culture in both times periods, from the racial extremes of the 1950's to the unconventional personalities that regularly clash and that pepper Frank's contemporary story. All the while Wyld beautifully translates the Australian native idioms in this detailed complex novel of two men haunted by their pasts. Mike Leonard November 09.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and evocative, 7 Sep 2009
By 
A. Foster (Bradford, W..Yorks) - See all my reviews
Having just got back from a year in Australia I really enjoyed the depiction of New South Wales, and there is much more to this book than just the setting. The Larkin maxim and other issues are explored throughout but the author's light touch leaves you to draw your own conclusions. The historical aspects are well researched and give the book added depth. The characterisation is superb, the plotting strong and I don't think it'll be too long before I re-read it - maybe on the plane back out to Sydney.
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