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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton

"To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."
          ~~William Blake, "Auguries of Innocence"~~

This verse is just before the prologue of Rosamund Lupton's second book, Afterwards.  A beautiful little verse and it suits this book.  There are deep themes in Afterwards, which is a melding of a thriller and a story of deep family love.  I listened to this book on audio and enjoyed it very much.  It was narrated by Finty Williams, and she did a marvelous job.  I'll be looking for more books narrated by her.

Afterwards is a scary story.  It begins with a mother, Grace, who comes to her children's school on a sports day to pick up her 8-year-old son, Adam.  Soon after she arrives and as she is looking for her boy, it becomes apparent that the school is on fire.  Almost no one is in the building because of the special sports event, but Grace sees Adam and then doesn't see her 17-year-old daughter, Jenny, a teaching assistant at the school.  She rushes into the burning building to save her child.  Both Jenny and Grace are critically injured, along with another teen teaching assistant, Rowena, daughter of Grace's good friend Maisie.

The fire turns out to have been arson.  And here's where the book is a little different.  It's told from the viewpoint of Grace, who is in a coma.  Both Grace and Jenny are sort of spirits or ghosts in a way.  Their conscious minds are able to see and hear and move about the hospital, while their unconscious bodies remain in hospital beds.  They talk to each other, but they are not able to communicate with anyone else.  In this way, mother and daughter are witnesses to what happens at the hospital as Mike, Grace's husband, and Sarah, his sister, talk to doctors, sit beside them, and as the police investigation proceeds.

Sarah is also Detective Sergeant McBride and a police officer.  When her boss settles on a convenient explanation for the arson and identifies the person he believes set the fire, she resists his conclusions.  At great risk to her career, but out of love for both Grace, Jenny, and also Adam and Mike, Sarah pursues other angles.  Meanwhile, someone doesn't want Jenny to wake up.  Someone tries to kill her even within the walls of the ICU.  Jenny herself can't remember what happened exactly before the fire.  She's not sure why she was still in the building.  And so she and Grace listen and talk to each other and get to know each other as they never have before.  They begin to piece together what happened, just as Sarah is doing the same.

I know that some may feel that this storyline is quite unbelievable, but I liked it.  I was sympathetic to Grace, who loved her children so fiercely, and who thought she knew all about her teenage daughter, but of course she didn't.  It was hard for Grace to see that her little girl had grown up and was ready to move on to adulthood.  The mystery aspect was well done.  Lots of red herrings and individuals who might have been the arsonist.  The ending was different too.  Some were disappointed with it.  I was not.  For me, I knew what would happen, so unconventional though it was, I was satisfied.

I liked Grace as a mother who would basically do anything for her children.  But, I really liked Sarah, the aunt and sister-in-law of the women, who was a dedicated police officer.  She and Grace had never been close.  In fact, Grace was always a little jealous and a little intimidated by Sarah.  Mike and Sarah's parents had died young and she had been both mother and father to her younger brother.  Sarah was consumed by a protective love for all the family and Grace comes to see that and appreciate her sister-in-law so very much.  As I said, themes of deep family love here.  A very good read for me.

I've read Rosamund Lupton's debut novel, Sister, and like it a lot.  She has a new book coming out in February, The Quality Of Silence.  It is set in Alaska and you can be sure that I'll be picking it up when it is available.

13 comments:

  1. This does sound a little odd, but I'm intrigued, especially since I remember you talking about her other book and how much you enjoyed it. Which did you like best? I'd like to give this author a try and would like to start with her best book first.

    Off topic, have you read In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware? It is SO good! I'm about halfway in and I'm really enjoying it. It's not as spooky as I thought it was going to be, but there's definitely a mystery and an underlying creepy factor going on. I think you'd really like it!

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    1. Actually, I think I liked this one best. I felt more for the mother I think. But I did like Sister too.

      And, no, I haven't read In A Dark, Dark Wood, but I have it on my Kindle already. I suspect that I will like it too. Soon. Soon. LOL

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  2. I don't read a lot of thrillers but your phrase "a melding of a thriller and a story of deep family love" intrigues me. I'm glad you enjoyed the audio!

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    1. It was kind of hard to describe, Mary. It's definitely a crime novel, but there is a lot of family stuff as well. And I did like the audio a lot.

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  3. This definitely has me intrigued. I'm not a huge fan of kids in thrillers but this doesn't sound typical at all and the perspective is definitely interesting. Another book for my TBR!

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    1. It is a different way of telling the story. I enjoyed it a lot.

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  4. Oooh, this one sounds good. I didn't love SISTER, but I liked it enough to give the author another try. And, talk about a haunting book cover ... wow.

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    1. Yes, there are several different book covers and I thought this one was the best.

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  5. Reading your review made my head spin a little with all that happens in this book, but it does sound good. I have a copy of this which I got through a surprise mystery package one year. I haven't read it yet though.

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    1. Yes, it's a book that has a lot going on. Hope you enjoy it if you decide to read it.

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  6. The story does sound different from the others and I like it that it was told from a different perspective unlike the others. Another one on the check list. ;-)

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    1. I liked that part too, Melody. :-)

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  7. I think I have this one on my shelves somewhere. Looks interesting from the perspective she chose to take. Great review Kay!

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Thanks for stopping by! I am so happy to hear your thoughts and will respond as soon as I can. Happy Reading!