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After You Paperback – 3 Mar 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (3 Mar. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241955270
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241955277
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 13 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 215,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A brave and extraordinary testament of bereavement, as honest as any I have ever read (Observer )

Written with remarkable wisdom, grace and courage, it is a portrait of a woman fighting to reconcile death with life, and managing to do exactly that. How proud her husband would have been (Mail on Sunday )

McElhone writes with great honesty and without self pity . . . A masterclass in graceful endurance (Sunday Times )

A remarkable story of emotional survival, beautifully told (Daily Mail ) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Natascha McElhone was born in London in 1971. She has starred in a wide range of TV, film and theatre including The Truman Show and Californication. She lives in London with her three boys.


Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I lost my husband in February of this year. Like Natascha, it came out of the blue - my husband was young, fit and apparently healthy. I've read several books that deal with grief as a project, but none come close to explaining the panic, the maelstrom of bewilderment, abandonment and chaos that has whipped around my head ever since; and none have thus far made me think - yes, that's what I'm feeling, that's what it's like.

Ms McElhone's book was featured in a Sunday paper last week, and after reading excerpts, I immediately ordered it. When it arrived, I read it in one greedy go. It's a short book, made up of diary entries and letters she wrote to her husband, who died while she was away filming, and while pregnant with their third son.

The first thing that struck me was the style of writing. Ms McElhone's prose is beautiful at times, but it's shot through with anger, panic and frustration. It's jerky in style, seemingly bouncing from one thing to another. At times it numbly describes the practicalities of death - choosing a coffin, where and how to do the funeral - at others, the words howl at you, and you can almost taste her lonlieness, her forlornness and her horror when the realisation of her situation hits her wiith juggernaut force, again and again. I found myself nodding along at times - she describes in one entry trying to get a phone company to switch the account from her husband's name to hers, and you can feel the heaviness in her heart when she tells them, no, he can't come to the phone as he has died, and the grim acceptance of their half-hearted condolences. I have made those calls, heard those words and my heart broke for her.
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Format: Hardcover
Like C.S Lewis' work, cited often in After You, this too was a grief observed - as much by the public as the participants due to the author's public profile. Reading it, what's striking is how the unfathomably impossible - looking after two small boys and a baby, while trying to literally keep a roof over your head and somehow deal with the sudden death of your young healthy soulmate - becomes the very thing that gets McElhone through the days; not having the luxury of shutting down and hiding away. In addition, she conveys in heart-rending detail the "mammothness" of her loss; it's a visceral tangible emotional agony and like her and her children you find yourself wishing desperately he could come back for one last conversation, one last hug, the chance to say goodbye. But despite all this - and with the help of Baby - the book closes with the sense that while honouring his memory this family will thrive and move on in lives filled with love.
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Format: Hardcover
Great art, or for that matter any other line of work, is created out of love, it would appear. So it is with this great little book of letters composed by the actress Natascha McElhone in her first year after the sudden and wholly unexpected death of 42 year-old husband, plastic surgeon Martin Kelly. Her grief's unadulterated rawness and her searing emotional honesty make reading this 110-page volume nothing short of a tour de force, and we can only speculate about the emotionally wrenching experience, however therapeutic, of writing it, and her brave decision ultimately to publish it. The very fact of this book's publication renders it a work of love directed not just to the husband and father who never these letters shall read, or their three sons who one day, no doubt, will do so filled with immense pride, but readers at large, privileged to vicariously accompany Natascha for the especially turbulent first twelve months of the emotional rollercoaster that constitutes life after Martin (lest my referring to them here by their first names seems overly familiar, any pretense to detachment or formality by the end of the ride seems the greater inappropriateness). Collectively we can consider ourselves fortunate that Natascha came down on this side of the proverbial fence she makes clear she was on at one point about publishing her letters.

I did actually know Martin, in my days training to be a plastic surgeon at Charing Cross Hospital in London, as a smart, personable, subtly funny, driven and enviably talented colleague, and once met Natascha, briefly, at the hospital's 1997 Christmas party.
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Format: Hardcover
A wonderful account of enduring love, Natascha McElhone writes in an honest, down to earth style which is neither sad nor happy. It's romantic without being slushy, it's ruthlessly honest about her feelings following the death of her husband, whom she and their children adored. Pregnant with her third child she faced an uncertain future. This is a story of a courageous woman who could have indulged in self pity, but instead pulled herself out of a fast approaching depression to save herself, her children and her unborn child. A book that once you start to read is difficult to put down until you finish the last word. This is a story for anyone and everyone who has suffered a deep loss at some stage in their life. It is both comforting and sad, which paradoxically starts the healing process.
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