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After the Party

Narrated by: Kristin Atherton
Length: 9 hrs and 51 mins
4 out of 5 stars (44 ratings)
Regular price: £19.99
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Summary

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of After the Party by Cressida Connolly, read by Kristin Atherton.  

'I always wanted to be friends with both my sisters. Perhaps that was the source, really, of all the troubles of my life....'  

It is the summer of 1938 and Phyllis Forrester has returned to England after years abroad. Moving into her sister's grand country house, she soon finds herself entangled in a new world of idealistic beliefs and seemingly innocent friendships. Fevered talk of another war infiltrates their small, privileged circle, giving way to a thrilling solution: a great and charismatic leader, who will restore England to its former glory.   

At a party hosted by her new friends, Phyllis lets down her guard for a single moment, with devastating consequences. Years later, Phyllis, alone and embittered, recounts the dramatic events which led to her imprisonment and changed the course of her life forever.  

©2018 Cressida Connolly (P)2018 Penguin Books Ltd

Critic reviews

"Wonderfully subtle and compelling." (Linda Grant) 

"Connolly is a terrifically subtle writer...[she] slyly sweeps her readers into the period drama as tensions tauten between families and social classes." (Daily Telegraph)

"'Wonderful, tragicomic...beautifully researched." (The Times

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

Subtle, Enthralling

I’m not sure that Phyllis Forrester truly recognises what led to her incarceration, nor does she repent it.

To be honest I’m not sure I properly understand it either. I’m not familiar with this part of British history which likely has some bearing on that, on the other hand I don’t think any specific knowledge is necessary to enjoy this book.

Phyllis’ story has two perspectives of narration: one, her older self, the second, that of the person she is telling her story to, who has presumably interviewed others & explored the events & history themselves. There are chapters told in first person & others in 3rd person with a broader perspective, as if a written history.

It’s an extraordinary & a very subtle story. In many ways Phyllis is a sideline for the main events, after all, World War II is brewing. But it is Phyllis’ ordinariness that makes her story interesting. Had she been a more influential character she may have been a less sympathetic one.

What I can’t decide is whether Phyllis was truly as naive as her narrative suggests, or whether that’s a pretense to create a more favourable personal history. I suspect she really was naive, but she seems to have overlooked an awful lot.

I like to understand what I’m reading in broader context so I did turn to Wikipedia for additional information on Defence Regulation 18B & on Oswald Mosley, which was enlightening.

I absolutely loved Cressida Connolly’s writing. It’s subtle & gorgeous, well matched to the story with the occasional
& most delightful surprises. Beautiful.

Kristin Atherton was absolutely perfect in her performance at all points. It’s an excellent quality production too.

I picked this up on a whim, knowing nothing about it & not being a usual fan of historical fiction. I highly recommend this for anyone whose interest strays into British history, especially of civilians during WWII, & of right wing politics. I’d also recommend to anyone who just enjoys a quiet, thoroughly enthralling read.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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A real disappointment

Started well. Thought it was really building to something but totally petered out. Very poorly handled as a story when actually the subject should have meant itself to a great storyline. Very overdescribed too. Performance was just boring. I had to speed it up to make it bearable. I rarely review fully and I love Audible but I can in no way recommend this!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Disappointed

I had high hopes for “After the Party” but found the book rather dull. Kristen Atherton did a wonderful job with the narration but over all it was boring. Phyllis Forrester is a woman of her time, bored with life and somewhat restless, finding her feet after returning back to Britain. She is however unrealistically unworldly and too easily influenced by her two very different sisters. This is hard to believe, she is after all a woman in her 30s with three children who is used to living abroad without family and friends to support her. Her family have recently returned from Europe and yet she seems totally politically ignorant, totally naive.
She fell into The British movement of fascists via a children’s summer camp but there is no real zeal, no real passion for anything and most importantly there is no shade to the political views of her family or circle of friends. There is no credible challenge to their unpalatable views not there is any real mention of it. It’s all very jolly hockey sticks, there is no real political agenda and what is seen is carried out by a child and so isn’t given the credence of what the party was actually about. The war itself isn’t mentioned, there is no dawning light of comprehension as Germany sweeps through Europe. The characters are tepid, Phylis involvement in “the party” seems to be due to needing something to do, in light of that in reality it shouldn’t have taken much for a dawning realisation to befall her and it would have made a much more interesting story if she had in-fact turned her back on her husband and circle of friends and family rather than her passive submission. Even when Phylis is wronged by those she is closest to she can’t even raise a cross word or any display of anger, she is totally two dimensional. As a result I found I cared little for her or what befell her. None of her family were likeable, the story didn’t tell me anything about the era that I didn’t already know.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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A Classy Novel.

Phyllis Forrester is one of three sisters who have grown up in a world defined by class, money, family and moving in the right social circles. Returning to Britain in the late 1930s with her husband Hugh, after a spell as expatriates, Phyllis and her family are encouraged by one of the sisters, Nina, to become involved in the local activities of the British Union of Fascists.

Initially it all seems harmless fun; but as Phyllis and her family become embroiled in both the workings of the Party and the lives of its County Set members, their seemingly gilded lives take a disastrous turn. As war looms Fascist politics alter the family's lives and prospects forever and Phyllis' relationships with her sisters and children will never be the same.

This was a fantastic, engrossing story with various forms of betrayal and injustice at its very heart and I found it deeply satisfying. I really loved it and the story was made all the better by a terrific narrator who really nailed the portrayal of all the characters. The author included a lot of period detail and social history about fascist politics in early 20th century Britain and I found this fascinating.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Irene
  • Retford, United Kingdom
  • 14-09-18

The regret

A novel mirrors girks like who followed Mosley but also about justice and regrets and loneliness

0 of 3 people found this review helpful