After You'd Gone Paperback – 1 Mar 2002
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|Paperback, 1 Mar 2002||
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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 out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"It''s the depiction of . . . deceptively small moments that is O''Farrell''s winning gift. . . . Her absorbing characters gracefully circle one another ''round the room like moths at the light bulb, '' grazing their wings against life''s raw heat instead of being consumed by it." --The New York Times Book Review
"After You''d Gone is beautifully written contemporary fiction." --The Sunday Times
"It's the depiction of . . . deceptively small moments that is O'Farrell's winning gift. . . . Her absorbing characters gracefully circle one another 'round the room like moths at the light bulb, ' grazing their wings against life's raw heat instead of being consumed by it." The New York Times Book Review
"After You'd Gone is beautifully written contemporary fiction." The Sunday Times"
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
If you enjoyed this book, I would thoroughly recommend an equally well-written and touching book - Shouting at the Ship Men by Tim Geary.
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!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the first book I have read by this author and I have found it a strange read. It took me some time to understand the story and found it difficult to follow.Published 18 days ago by HAZEL LEAH
This novel comes with an emotional health warning. O’Farrell prods and pushes her reader down a number of pathways, which all link up in the end but in ways which you could never... Read morePublished 19 days ago by Brooke Fieldhouse
Another great book from Maggie O'Farrell. The story was both heartbreaking and humorous, and one that had me reading into the wee hours. Thoroughly enjoyed it!Published 22 days ago by EvieH
I thought this book was so moving the description of grief felt so real and raw. Very well observed and beautifully written.Published 2 months ago by S J Baxter
I read Maggie O'Farrell's books Instructions for a Heatwave and The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and enjoyed both of them and anticipate rereading them at some stage. Read morePublished 2 months ago by agoodreader
I was quite riveted by this book. A good study of grief and its effect. The character's were well captured and though the premise is really rather simple the description of love... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Kindle Customer
Gave up after about 40 pages which is very unlike me. I usually can read anything.Published 2 months ago by Pat Davies