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Summary

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

What listeners say about After You'd Gone

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A memorable family saga

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.

11 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Smoke and mirrors

Would you consider the audio edition of After You'd Gone to be better than the print version?

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.

What did you like best about this story?

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.

What about Lesley Mackie’s performance did you like?

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.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

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.

Any additional comments?

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.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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So moving

An amazing story of love and loss. It will make you laugh and cry. Great narration.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

good story, annoyng characters,unvarying tone

Where does After You'd Gone rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Near the middle

What did you like best about this story?

gripping first three quarters

What three words best describe Lesley Mackie’s voice?

little variation, over insistent

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Alice knitting a pullover flor her dead boyfriend

Any additional comments?

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

1 person found this helpful

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Listen to this gem

Beautifully written. Magnificently narrated. I hung on every word. Maggie is an absolute genius writer.

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A beautiful book

I loved this book - it's a beautiful story, wonderfully narrated. In my view, though, it should come with a content warning, since it deals with themes of bereavement, depression and suicide, which can be tough if you've experienced these things personally.

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Hooked me in

Love the way Maggie O'Farrell writes; so descriptive of even the most mundane nuances. The characters are complex and evolve as the story unfolds and their interaction with each other. Interesting subject. Brilliant narration

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Clever zigzagging

I’m now accustomed to the author’s technique of jumping forward and backwards in time and appreciate the fact that I am being allowed to pick up the clues, foreshadowing and revelations. Having gained my own understanding of what has happened in the past adds an interesting dimension, as I think what I would do or say in the circumstances and I enjoy this aspect, of being included, so to speak.

Enjoyable story, beautifully narrated.

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Loved it

The narrator was fabulous. Loved the tone of her voice. I loved the characters so much I was sad when it ended.

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My favourite book ever

I can’t describe how much I love this book. It’s so beautiful and painful and happy and tragic