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, where a traffic accident leaves her in a coma. After You'd Gone follows Alice's mental journey into how she came to be this way, as she twists together threads of memory in a plot that grips from the outset.
It is a love story which is also a story of absence - we discover that Alice's lover, John, has been dead for a year by the time the book starts - and of parental legacies: how actions and choices can reverberate in following generations. Slowly, we are drawn closer to a dark secret at the family's heart, as Alice begins to wonder whether she will ever be whole again, or even survive.
©2000 Maggie O'Farrell (P)2012 Headline Digital
Gradually one gets to know the three generations of a family as the story swings back and forth in time. You have to be on your toes to keep track of the era being described as there are no chapter headings to give you a clue. The character whose life is at the centre of the book is Alice and her important relationship with John. For anybody who has lost a loved one the final chapters are very poignant but do ring true.
A fine book describing family relationships with insight. Excellently narrated.
Yes, listening to the book brought over the pathos, the passion and the joy in the story. Our book group reviewed this book and several of us listened to it rather than read it - those who listened all agreed it was an excellent book, those who read were ambivalent, some not even finishing it, saying it was too sad and depressing. The mystery of what Alice saw in the washroom is only revealed in the last few pages - like smoke swirling around and images reflected in mirrors you can't see the whole picture until all the pieces suddenly fall into place and it all becomes clear.
The slow unravelling of Alice's story - in particular the visit to the shop when she is given a string of pearls as a gift. As the reader you know the motive but Alice does not and you wonder if Elspeth, her grandmother, realises and that makes her tell Alice to return them. The absolute desolation that engulfs her after the death of John is so real, so vivid. The characters are well drawn, right down to the elusive father-in-law who comes up trumps at the end of the book.
The accents, the timbre and intonation - all excellent. I was never conscious of listening to someone reading a book aloud, it was just as if I were reading it.
I don't recall laughing much but I definitely cried in several places - the anguish felt by Alice and the despair were so well described. You knew what was coming and had to wait for her find out - that was so, so sad.
I enjoyed this book, despite it being sad, so much that I have bought another to listen to. I have also recommended that those who read the paper book should try listening to it to see if it changes their opinion of the storyline.
Near the middle
gripping first three quarters
little variation, over insistent
Alice knitting a pullover flor her dead boyfriend
the main protaganists, Alice and John, were unappealing: Alice, too strident and spoilt, John, too much of a doormat. Cleverly structured but an unconvincing finale
After You'd Gone - nice book abrupt ending
Guessed pretty early on what Alice saw at train station & why she went back to London
Liked the going back & forth in time.
Maggie O'Farrell presents the grief of losing a loved one in many layers - the physical and emotional, the searing pain and the trivial reminders of what is gone. Thankfully I haven't suffered such a loss, but this portrayal seemed totally authentic.
At first I found the jumping from present to past to more recent past and back to present difficult to keep up with. Similarly, the three generations of women took a little while to tune into.
All the characters were believable - they all had flaws but this made them credible and mostly likeable.
I found the descriptions of Alice in her coma fascinating; all her senses were involved in the ebb and flow of her unconsciousness. I have no idea how true to life this is, but am happy to accept the author's view.
I've read several Maggie O'Farrell books and never been disappointed. She has the talent to present layers of emotional situations without mawkishness or over-sentimentality.
After you'd gone is the third book I have read by Maggie O'Farrell and it didn't disappoint. The story weaves between past and present giving slow insight into how and why Alice is in the situation we find her. The descriptions of Alice's grief and longing are intense and deeply moving. The narrator's voice was perfect for this story. The end came as a surprise and I felt I wanted more.
It's a fairly bog standard depressing love story that jumps around far more than is strictly necessary. Very well read though
Having not read the book and only listened to the audio I cannot say.
I can't think of any quite as good.
No I have not listened to any other of Lesley Mackie's performances but going by this one I would like to.
I laughed and cried, it is a highly emotional book that is beautifully excecuted.
I loved the main character Alice, Lesley Mackie's wonderful narration brought her to life. This book is a gripping family saga and I was sorry when it came to an end.
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