Book review: after you'd gone

By Maggie O'Farrell
Published by Headline Review

Synopsis: A distraught young woman boards a train at King's Cross to return to her family in Scotland. Six hours later, she catches sight of something so terrible in a mirror at Waverley Station that she gets on the next train back to London.

AFTER YOU'D GONE follows Alice's mental journey through her own past, after a traffic accident has left her in a coma. A love story that is also a story of absence, and of how our choices can reverberate through the generations, it slowly draws us closer to a dark secret at a family's heart.

How did this book end up in my hands? This is another one of those books that have been moving home with me for a good few years so I don’t actually recall how it’s ended on the shelves.

Was it a page-turner? Not in the beginning but as I kept learning more and more about the women of the Raikes family, I could hardly put it down. I just needed to know what would happen to them and the people they loved (or didn’t love so much).

Having read the synopsis, did the book meet my expectations? The book exceeded my expectations. It delivers what anticipated in the synopsis and so much more too. There is more depth to this novel that it can be summarised on a back cover. I only found it a little slow to get into because the narration was initially jumping too frequently from one character to the other or back and forth in time.

Did I like the ending? I could think of three possible endings while I was reading the book and I wasn’t sure which one I should prefer. No problem! The writer came up with a fourth option and I loved it! This said, I should probably read the last paragraph again because I could hardly see the words through my tears. Happy tears, sad tears, hopeful tears and heartbroken tears. Have I already mentioned I loved it?

Did the book leave me with unanswered questions? The book leaves the readers with one massive unanswered question at the very end and that is was makes it so brilliant. I wouldn’t want it any other way!

Three words to describe it. Gripping. Moving. Heart-breaking.

Do I like the cover? Yes and no. Blue is my favourite colour and I love beaches so, yes, I do like it. However, I don’t see how it has anything to do with the story.

Have I read any other books by the same author? Yes, I’ve read The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, My Lover’s Lover and The Hand That First Held Mine (my review here) – in that order. I loved all three of them.

Will I want to read other books by the same author? Yes, I can’t imagine not wanting to.

Will I be recommending this book? Yes, yes, yes. In particular if you enjoy books with women who are strong and vulnerable at the same time and in general in you like books that keep you on your toes until the very end.

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