When her children's school is set ablaze, Grace runs into the burning building to rescue her teenage daughter, Jenny. In the aftermath, badly injured, Grace learns the police have identified the arsonist, but they have blamed the wrong person. Only Detective Sarah McBride, the sister-in-law Grace has never liked, is searching for the real arsonist--a hunt that becomes urgent when it's clear Jenny is still the perpetrator's target.
Page-turning suspense combines with a beautiful portrayal of deep family bonds to make this a stunning and riveting read.
Now with Extra Libris material, including a reader’s guide and bonus content
|Product dimensions:||5.36(w) x 7.88(h) x 0.94(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
You were in your important BBC meeting this afternoon, so you won’t have felt the strong warm breeze—“A godsend for sports day,” parents were saying to each other. I thought that even if a God existed, he’d be a little tied up with starving people in Africa or abandoned orphans in Eastern Europe to worry about providing free air-conditioning for Sidley House School’s sack race.
The sun shone on the white lines painted on the grass; the whistles hanging around the teachers’ necks glinted; the children’s hair was shiny-bright. Touchingly too-big feet on small legs bounced on the grass as they did the one-hundred-meter dash, the sack race, the obstacle course. You can’t really see the school from the playing field in summer time—those huge pollarded oaks hide it from view—but I knew a reception class of four-year-olds was still in there and I thought it was a shame the youngest children couldn’t be out enjoying the afternoon too.
Adam was wearing his “I am 8!” badge from our card this morning—just this morning. He came hurrying up to me, that little face of his beaming, because he was off to get his cake from school right now! Rowena had to get the medals so was going with him; Rowena who was at Sidley House with Jenny all those moons ago.
As they left, I looked around to see if Jenny had arrived. I’d thought that after her A-level disaster she should immediately start revision for her retakes, but she still wanted to work at Sidley House to pay for her planned trip to Canada. Strange to think I minded so much.
I’d thought her being a temporary teaching assistant at seventeen was challenge enough—and now she was school nurse for the afternoon. We’d gently crossed swords at breakfast.
“It’s just a little young to have that much responsibility.”
“It’s a primary school sports day, Mum, not a motorway crash.”
But now her shift was almost over—with no accidents at all—and soon she’d be out to join us. I was sure she’d be itching to leave that small stuffy medical room stuck at the top of the school.
I’d noticed at breakfast that she was wearing that red froufrou skirt with a skimpy top and I’d told her it didn’t really look very professional, but when did Jenny ever listen to my advice on clothes?
“Just count your lucky stars I’m not in bumsters.”
“You mean the jeans that hang around boys’ bottoms?”
“I always want to go and give them a hitch up.”
She bursts out laughing.
And her long legs do look rather wonderful under the too-short, gauzy skirt; and despite myself I feel a little proud. Though she got her long legs from you.
On the playing field, Maisie arrived, her blue eyes sparkling, her face one large smile. Some people dismiss her as slightly eccentric in her fun shirts (long sleeves a different pattern to the rest) but most of us love her.
“Gracie,” she said, giving me a hug. “I’ve come to give Rowena a lift home. She texted me a little while ago, said the tubes were up the spout. So Chauffeur-Mum to the fore!”
“She’s getting the medals,” I told her. “Adam’s gone with her to get his cake. They should be back any minute.”
She smiled. “What kind of cake this year?”
“A chocolate tray-bake. Addie dug out a trench with a teaspoon, and we took off all the candy and replaced it with soldiers. It’s a World War One cake. Which is violent but fits with the curriculum, so I don’t think anyone’ll mind.”
She laughed. “Fantastic.”
“Not really, but he thinks so.”
“Is she your best friend, Mum?” Adam asked me recently.
“Probably, yes,” I said.
Maisie handed me a “little something” for Adam, beautifully wrapped, which I knew would contain a spot-on present. She’s brilliant at presents. It’s one of the many things I love her for. Another is that she ran in the mothers’ race every single year that Rowena was at Sidley House and came in last by a mile every time but didn’t give a hoot! She has never owned a piece of Lycra clothing and, unlike virtually every other mother at Sidley House, has never been inside a gym.
I know. I’m dawdling on that sunny playing field with Maisie. I’m sorry. But it’s hard. What I’m getting to is just so bloody hard.
Maisie left to find Rowena in the school.
I checked my watch; it was almost three.
Still no sign of either Jenny or Adam.
The PE teacher blew his whistle for the last race—the relay—bellowing through his loudspeaker for teams to get in position. I worried that Addie would get into trouble for not being in his designated place.
I looked back at the school, thinking surely I’d see them coming towards me any moment.
Smoke was coming from the school building. Thick black smoke like a bonfire. I remember the calm most of all. The absence of panic. But knowing it was accelerating towards me, like a juggernaut.
I had to hide. Quickly. No. I am not in danger. This terror isn’t for me. My children are in danger.
It hit me in the chest, full on.
There is a fire and they are in there.
They are in there.
And then I was running at the velocity of a scream. Running so hard that I didn’t have time to breathe.
A running scream that can’t stop until I hold them both.
Darting across the road, I heard sirens blaring on the bridge. But the fire engines weren’t moving. There were abandoned cars by the traffic lights blocking their path, and women were getting out of other cars just left in the middle of the road and were running across the bridge towards the school. But all the mothers were at the sports day. What were these women doing, kicking off their high-wedged shoes and tripping over flip-flops and screaming as they ran, like me? I recognized one, the mother of a reception child. They were the mothers of the four-year-olds coming to do their usual pickup. One had left a toddler in her abandoned SUV and the toddler was hitting the window as he watched his mother in this ghastly mothers’ race.
And then I was there first, before the other mothers because they still had to cross the road and run down the drive.
And the four-year-olds were lined up outside the school with their teacher, a neat little two-by-two line; and Maisie was with the teacher, with her arm around her, and I saw how shaken the teacher looked. Behind them black smoke poured out of the school like a factory chimneystack, staining the summer-blue sky.
And Adam was outside—outside!—by that bronze statue—and he was sobbing against Rowena and she was holding him tightly. And in that moment of relief, love flooded out from me not only onto my boy but onto the girl who was comforting him.
I allowed myself a second, maybe two, to feel gut-wrenching relief for Adam and then I was looking for Jenny. Bobbed blond hair, slender. No one like Jenny outside. From the bridge the sirens wailed.
And the four-year-olds were starting to cry as they saw their mothers, running full tilt towards them down the drive, tears streaming down their faces, arms outstretched, waiting for that moment to hold their child.
And I turned towards the burning building, black smoke billowing out of the classrooms on the second and third floors.
I ran up the main steps to the school and opened the door into the small vestibule, and for a moment everything was normal. There was that framed photo on the wall of the first pupils at Sidley House, smiling their baby teeth smiles. (Rowena exceptionally pretty then, Jenny our gawky little duckling.) There was the day’s lunch menu, with pictures as well as words: fish pie and peas. And I was overwhelmingly reassured. It was like coming into school every morning.
I tried to open the door from the vestibule into the school itself. For the first time I realized how heavy it was. A fire door. My hands were shaking too hard to get a grip on the handle properly. And it was hot. I’d had my shirtsleeves rolled high up. I unrolled them and tugged them over my hand. Then I pulled the door open.
I screamed her name. Over and over. And each time I screamed her name, smoke came into my mouth and throat and lungs until I couldn’t scream anymore.
The sound of burning, hissing, and spitting; a giant serpent of fire coiling through the building.
Above me something collapsed. I heard and felt the thud.
And then a roar of rage as the fire discovered fresh oxygen.
The fire was above me.
Jenny was above me.
I could just see my way to the stairs. I started climbing them, the heat getting stronger, the smoke thicker.
I got to the first floor.
The heat punched me full in the body and face.
I couldn’t see anything—blacker than hell.
I had to get to the third floor.
The smoke went into my lungs, and I was breathing barbed wire.
I dropped onto my hands and knees, remembering from some distant fire drill at my old school that this is where oxygen is found. By some small miracle I found I could breathe.
I crawled forwards, a blind person without a stick, fingers tapping in front of me, trying to find the next flight of stairs. I ought to have been crossing the reading area with the huge, brightly colored rug. I felt the rug under my fingers, the nylon melting and crinkling in the heat, and my fingertips were burning. I was afraid my fingertips would soon be too burnt to feel. I was like the man in Adam’s mythology book, holding on to Ariadne’s thread to find his way out of the labyrinth—only my thread was a melting rug.
I reached the end of the rug and felt the texture change, and then I felt the first step.
I began to climb the stairs up to the second floor, on my hands and knees, keeping my face down to the oxygen.
And all the time I was refusing to believe it could really be happening. This place was soft-cheeked children and fidgeting on the stairs and washing lines strung up across classrooms with flying pennants of children’s drawings. It was reading books and chapter books and beanbags and fruit cut up into slices at snack time.
It was safe.
All around me I heard and felt chunks of Jenny’s and Adam’s childhoods crashing down.
I felt dizzy, poisoned by something in the smoke.
It was a battle. Me against this living, breathing fire that wanted to kill my child.
I knew I’d never get to the third floor, that it would kill me before I could reach her.
I felt her at the top of the stairs. She had managed to get down one flight.
She was my little girl and I was here and everything was going to be all right now.
She didn’t speak or move and the fire’s roar was getting closer and I couldn’t breathe much longer.
I tried to pick her up as if she was still tiny, but she was too heavy.
I dragged her down the stairs, trying to use my body to shield her from the heat and smoke. I wouldn’t think how badly hurt she was. Not yet. Not till the bottom of the stairs. Not until she was safe.
I cried to you, silently, as if by telepathy I could summon you to help us.
And as I dragged her, step by step, down the stairs, trying to get away from burning heat and raging flames and smoke, I thought of love. I held on to it. And it was cool and clear and quiet.
Maybe there was telepathy between us, because at that moment you must have been in your meeting with the BBC commissioning editors about the follow-up to your Hostile Environments series. You’d done sweltering, steamy jungles and blazing, arid deserts, and you wanted the next series to be in the contrasting frozen wilds of Antarctica. So maybe it was you who helped me envisage a silent, white acreage of love as I dragged Jenny down the stairs.
But before I reached the bottom, something hit me, throwing me forwards, and everything went dark.
As I lost consciousness I talked to you.
I said, “An unborn baby doesn’t need air at all, did you know that?” I thought you probably didn’t. When I was pregnant with Jenny, I found out everything I could, but you were too impatient for her to arrive to bother with her prologue. So you don’t know that an unborn baby, swimming around in amniotic fluid, can’t take a breath or she would drown. There aren’t any temporary gills so that she can swim, fishlike, until birth. No, the baby gets her oxygen from the umbilical cord attached to her mother. I felt like an oxygen supply attached to a tiny, intrepid diver.
But the moment she was born, the oxygen supply was cut off and she entered the new element of air. There was a moment of silence, a precipitous second, as if she stood on the edge of life, deciding. In the old days they used to slap the baby to hear the reassuring yell of lungs filled with air. Nowadays they look closely to see the minute rise of a baby-soft chest, and listen to the whispering—in and out—to know that life in the new medium of air has begun.
And then I cried and you cheered—actually cheered!—and the baby equipment trolley was wheeled out, no need for that now. A normal delivery. A healthy infant. To join all the billions of others on the planet who breathe, in and out, without thinking about it.
The next day your sister sent me a bouquet of roses with Gypsophila, known as “baby’s breath,” sprays of pretty white flowers. But a newborn baby’s breath is finer than a single parachute from a blown dandelion clock.
You told me once that when you lose consciousness, the last of the senses to go is hearing. In the darkness I thought I heard Jenny take a dandelion-clock breath.
What People are Saying About This
“A bold, impossible-to-categorize, and riveting blend of psychological suspense, literary thriller and the paranormal…Afterwards proves that Lupton isn't just good — she's wickedly good." —Seattle Times
“A gripping novel.” —New York Times Book Review
“Lupton’s finely wrought portrait of motherly love is genuinely moving.” —Boston Globe
“Readers...will be equally smitten with Afterwards, as much an homage to the mother-daughter relationship as it is a crime novel...There are so many twists, turns and heartbreaks in this tragic, tense novel.” —USA Today
“With its hint of a Jodi Picoult family saga blended with an eerie Ruth Rendell mystery, Afterwards should appeal to readers of both genres.” —BookPage
“Lupton takes her readers on a totally harrowing ride as she melds a suspenseful procedure with an emotionally fraught drama. Within a taut and sinuous narrative, heartbreak over a broken family vies with fear that the arsonist will return…Masterful pacing and a highly charged atmosphere combine to make this an exceptionally gripping read.” —Booklist, starred review
“Lupton's dexterity at handling the subplots and possible suspects is dazzling. … Lupton creates such lovely, believable feelings in all of her characters…that what's ostensibly a supernatural story feels very, very human.” —Oprah.com
“Excellent and full of plot twists.” —The Daily American
"Lupton’s superb follow-up to Sister…The uncommon but convincing narrative technique, adroit twists, and memorable characters combine to provide a wise and poignant portrait of a family confronted with malice and heartbreaking decisions.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A wonderful mix of smart thriller with tear-provoking literature; a fine blend of Jodi Picoult and P.D. James…Lupton has written a riveting story that will resonate with readers long after they have turned the last page.” —Library Journal, starred review
“A full-throttle psychological thriller, ring-fenced by a mother’s love…With each turn of the page, Lupton seems to add another element and motive to the mix…This compulsive read confirms Lupton’s instinctive commercial flair.” —Kirkus
"The author of the outstanding Sister has done it again - in fact she's outdone herself. It's hard to come up with enough superlatives to do justice to Afterwards, a brilliant mystery where the two key investigators are both in a coma....Rush out to get a copy - and add Sister too if you haven't discovered it yet. They are both brilliant reads.” —Bookloons.com
“Rosamund Lupton (Sister) offers up an intricately plotted combination of thriller, speculative fiction and mother-daughter celebration in Afterwards…Lupton delivers a top-notch mystery with red herrings galore; even the most seasoned mystery reader will do a double-take at the arsonist's identity. However, the rich emotional topography is the most spellbinding feature in Afterwards. At its heart, Lupton's story deals with parents and children, the bonds that allow family members to share their joy and their pain and the struggle parents face between wanting their offspring to stay children forever and needing to let go…Readers are encouraged to grab a box of Kleenex, put Mom on speed dial and discover what comes afterwards.” —Shelf Awareness
“Afterwards is an exceptional literary thriller that resonates with depth and despair. It’s got it all: a gripping plot with twists and turns, a horrific crime, and a beautiful love story layered into the fine fabric of a family, who are torn apart by a devastating betrayal.” —Chevy Stevens, New York Times bestselling author of Still Missing and Never Knowing
“In Afterwards, we see a master's touch on every page. Uncompromising emotional impact, a poet’s sonorous style and a gripping story all come together to make this a transcendent literary experience. I guarantee this novel will touch everyone.” —Jeffery Deaver, New York Times bestselling author of Carte Blanche and Edge
“Brilliantly conceived and executed, Afterwards asks a mother's most terrifying question: what if your children were in mortal danger and you were unable to do a thing to save them? It's a heartbreaking and fearless journey that proves once again: Rosamund Lupton is truly a force to be reckoned with.” –Carla Buckley, author of The Things That Keep Us Here
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Loved this book. What a moving, engaging story. It is a mystery, but also, and maybe primarily, a love story. A parent's love for his/her child, a wife's love for her husband, and his love for her. I was torn the entire time I was reading this between wanting to find out "who dunnit" and not wanting this wonderful story to end. I enjoyed Sisters - this was even better. Can't wait to see what comes next.
I read Rosamund Lupton's debut novel 'Sister' last year. You may remember me raving about it - it was a fantastic read. I jumped at the chance to read her second novel - Afterwards. Another absolutely brilliant read - one I would highly, highly recommend! I was hooked from the opening paragraph of the prologue. "I couldn't move, not even a little finger or a flicker of an eye. I couldn't open my mouth to scream....Only one thing for it, I said to myself, thinking of you, and I slipped out of the wrecked ship of my body into the black ocean." Grace Covey is volunteering at the outdoor sports day at her son Adam's private school. Her older child Jenny is working inside as the school nurse that day. When a fire breaks out, Grace races to find her children. Knowing Jenny is still trapped in the building, Grace runs into the burning building. She finds her, but the two of them are terribly injured. Cue prologue. Yes, Grace and Jenny are able to leave their ruined bodies. Now, anyone thinking this might be a mainly paranormal type of read is wrong. Honestly, Afterwards is so many different reads. In the beginning I saw it strictly as a mystery. Grace and Jenny are able to follow along with the investigation into the fire - for it was arson. And Grace and Jenny cannot communicate with the 'outside' world. Piece by piece, along with the victims, we are able to cobble together what really happened that day. There is much more to this fire than meets the eye. Lupton employs many twists and turns and some red herrings along the way that kept me guessing at the identity of the 'culprit' until the last few chapters. But, in addition to the mystery is the deeper story - that of a mother, daughter, son, husband and father. Grace's love for her children is achingly beautiful, powerful and so poignant. (Hint - have tissues ready for the last few chapters - I finished the book with tears in my eyes) Lupton uses a second person point of view that takes a bit of getting used to in the beginning, but it works for this story. I can't see it being told in any other fashion. Once I finish writing a review, I head out on the net to see what others think. I was quite surprised to see there were mixed reviews on this book. For this reader, it was an absolutely addicting, stay up late
This is the first book that I've read by this author. I now plan to read Sisters. This book, Afterwards, is one of the most original books that I've read. It was a mystery and a love story. All the characters were fleshed out so well that I felt like I would recognize them on the street. Their emotions felt very real and logical There were plenty twists and turns that kept me engaged and wanting to read more. Though I finished the book days ago, I am still thinking of the characters and story. I think this is the best book I've read all year! Don't pass this by.
"Afterwards: The Novel " by Rosamund Lupton was a wonderful thriller, suspense mystery read. This novel was definitely one that was a page turner till the end. There are so many twist and turns with surprises.... you will really have to keep up with this fast pace novel which is good since this is a VERY long read. This novel was written in a second person point of view...after understanding that.... I was able to understand the story line much better. Believe me be ready for lies, secrets and lots of half truths that is all around this plot of the investigation. In "Afterwards" you will find this was a novel of a mothers' love for her children and husband. In this England community... Gracie Covey while at a Sport Day celebration for the children...she discovers the school is on fire...seeing that her son Adam is safe she then see that her daughter Jenny is not .... so he enters the school and is trapped on the third floor.... and then next Gracie awakes in a hospital...unable to move or talk..trapped in her own body...but she knows she is alive .... along with her Jenny....which now the novel appears to be somewhat paranormal....in that she and her daughter can only communicate....but both Jenny and Gracies' mind is alive and able to move about the hospital and other places(outside their body)..... but they are unable to communicate with anyone else. It is very interesting at this point on seeing how this author was able to relay...what has happen to them, on to eavesdropping on the family...friends and even the hospital staff.....then to the story moving on to discover that this fire at the school was from arson.... and fear comes that this arsonist is the same person who had been harassing her Jenny earlier. The two...Jenny and Grace start to seen what was going on... however, this was not possible for the other members of the family.....Jenny could not be protected by Grace....now I will not say more about that.... you will have to pick up this wonderful novel and find out how this all comes out. Be ready for a well written read. I felt that all the characters were off the chart... Very Good and very captivating.......Detective Sergeant Sarah MacBride....the sister in law to Gracie was definitely my heroine as well as one of my favorite characters. This author was really able to make a very believable story on a mothers determination to keep her children safe....even though her body is incapacitated......"There is no happy ending but there is 'Afterwards." "Afterwards:The Novel" is a very absorbing book that I simply enjoyed and I was very surprised in the guilty person(s) that will leave you speechless. WoW! I found this book to be very intriguing and an extraordinary novel and if you are in for a good thrilling, suspenseful mystery... then "Afterwards: The Novel" is a good read for you.
A mystery and love story with twists and turns that keeps one engaged to the very end.
Very moving. Give it to your mother. Satisfying mystery and lovely family drama with some mysticism thrown in.
After loving `Sister' and then reading some of the reviews on here declaring this one of the most memorable books people had ever read, I approached this with trepidation. Surely this could *not* live up to the hype? Surely I was going to be let down in some way...?Er, `no' and `no' actually. This book sucked me in from the start and I quite happily ignored the real world whilst I read it (thankfully in one sitting). This book, despite the far-fetched premise, is un-putdownable (if such a word exists!) and I definitely preferred it to `Sister.' The ending of this one was also not as much of a disappointment as the former.I won't summarise the story as that has been done countless times already (infact sometimes too much is divulged for my liking), but I will agree that this was just a wonderfully written novel with a fantastic concept, memorable characters and a really heartbreaking premise. The ending left me with a lump in my throat, though I couldn't cry because I was reading it in a public place! I just felt that by that time I'd invested so much emotion in the book, knew the characters so well and they were so relatable that I just wanted things to turn out for the best for all of them.The writing is beautiful and the story flows so well that as a reader you just find yourself turning the pages and wanting to know what happens next. If I could offer any criticisms it would be that I did feel Lupton was trying to drop a few too many red herrings into the plot that were a bit distracting at times and pulled attention away from the present situation a bit too much. The situation with Jenny's `stalker' whilst relevant also got a little bit tedious on occaision. These are small criticisms though and did not prevent me from enjoying the story. I really appreciate the authors winning combination of crime and literature and I'm eager to see what she comes up with next.Though this personally isn't the best book *I've* ever read (that honour most definitely goes to `The Poisonwood Bible'), it is still a worthy five star read. Other reviewers have compared it to Lovely Bones, Time Travellers Wife and similar stories, but I would suggest just taking this on its own merit and enjoying the ride. It goes without saying that I would recommend this book to anyone, no hesitation. What are you waiting for? *This review also appears on Amazon.co.uk*
"Afterwards" is excellent, a very different book from "Sister", Lupton's debut novel. The narrator is in a hospital bed virtually brain dead with no cognitive functionality. But her spirit is free to roam and she can see, hear, and move but no one is aware of her presence. She cannot impact at all on the physical world, so she can't text on a cell phone, nor shut a door. Now I am not a great one for this kind of fantasy but I was able with no effort to "suspend disbelief" very easily - the book is that well written. It becomes a mechanism to tell a story in a different way, and it works ! But it probably doesn't work for everyone. For me, this book passed the 50 page test by about page 15 - I knew it was a winner. But throughout the story, the author really keeps you on edge. There are other victims, some victims of false accusations, another in a physically critical state. And it is crime fiction. So there still remains the whodunit question. The book has many excellent characters, and as I read this I mentally switched prime suspects every 30 pages or so. And there was this terrible dread throughout that for this story to work someone was going to have to die...but who? Finally, one strong point that the author makes time and again and does it so well is that we should keep open-minded about people, good points and bad, and avoid leaping to the obvious conclusions - whether we're re-examining a single encounter or a lifetime's relationship. Will be looking forward to Lupton #3
I loved this novel and it is definitely on my list of top books of 2012. This novel was haunting, stunning, beautiful, and chilling. The characters are complex and the plot has so many twists and turns that you'll get whiplash. I was sobbing like a little baby at the end. It was just an absolutely wonderful book that I would recommend to everyone.
Critically injured after being trapped in a school fire, a mother and daughter find themselves in an out-of-body experience where they can see, hear, and even travel with the loved ones hovering around their hospital beds. If you can accept this impossibility, you'll enjoy reading this mildly suspenseful story of love and trust, betrayal and lies. The reader is kept guessing - will mother and daughter survive? who set the fire? who's lying and why? The main character deftly switches from Grace (the mother) to Sarah, Grace's law enforcement sister-in-law, who unexpectedly puts everything on the line to investigate. As in her previous novel (Sister), Lupton writes complex characters and twisty plot lines with plenty of false leads. She uses a good amount of British usage, e.g. A-levels, reception classes, rows, and bits, which may hamper some American readers.
May 19, 2012 Arlena Dean Author: Rosamund LuptonPublished By: Crown Publishing Group Age Recommend: Adult (Language)Reviewed By: Arlena DeanRaven Rating: 4Blog Review For: GMTAReview:"Afterwards: The Novel " by Rosamund Lupton was a wonderful thriller, suspense mystery read. This novel was definitely one that was a page turner till the end. There are so many twist and turns with surprises.... you will really have to keep up with this fast pace novel which is good since this is a VERY long read.This novel was written in a second person point of view...after understanding that.... I was able to understand the story line much better. Believe me be ready for lies, secrets and lots of half truths that is all around this plot of the investigation. In "Afterwards" you will find this was a novel of a mothers' love for her children and husband. In this England community... Gracie Covey while at a Sport Day celebration for the children...she discovers the school is on fire...seeing that her son Adam is safe she then see that her daughter Jenny is not .... so he enters the school and is trapped on the third floor.... and then next Gracie awakes in a hospital...unable to move or talk..trapped in her own body...but she knows she is alive .... along with her Jenny....which now the novel appears to be somewhat paranormal....in that she and her daughter can only communicate....but both Jenny and Gracies' mind is alive and able to move about the hospital and other places(outside their body)..... but they are unable to communicate with anyone else. It is very interesting at this point on seeing how this author was able to relay...what has happen to them, on to eavesdropping on the family...friends and even the hospital staff.....then to the story moving on to discover that this fire at the school was from arson.... and fear comes that this arsonist is the same person who had been harassing her Jenny earlier. The two...Jenny and Grace start to seen what was going on... however, this was not possible for the other members of the family.....Jenny could not be protected by Grace....now I will not say more about that.... you will have to pick up this wonderful novel and find out how this all comes out. Be ready for a well written read. I felt that all the characters were off the chart... Very Good and very captivating.......Detective Sergeant Sarah MacBride....the sister in law to Gracie was definitely my heroine as well as one of my favorite characters. This author was really able to make a very believable story on a mothers determination to keep her children safe....even though her body is incapacitated......"There is no happy ending but there is 'Afterwards.""Afterwards:The Novel" is a very absorbing book that I simply enjoyed and I was very surprised in the guilty person(s) that will leave you speechless. WoW!I found this book to be very intriguing and an extraordinary novel and if you are in for a good thrilling, suspenseful mystery... then "Afterwards: The Novel" is a good read for you.
First Line: I couldn't move, not even a little finger or a flicker of an eye.It's Sports Day at Sidley House School. Grace Covey's eight-year-old son, Adam, has gone inside the school to bring out the birthday cake that he's sharing with his classmates while Jennifer, her seventeen-year-old daughter, is up on the third floor filling in for the school nurse. Grace has simply come to pick her children up at school, an ordinary, everyday task. But what began as a simple task turns into a nightmare when Grace looks up at the school and sees black smoke billowing out of the windows.Sidley House School is on fire, and her children are inside."And then [Grace] was running at the velocity of a scream." As she comes to the school entrance, she sees that her son is outside and safe, but Jenny is still inside. Jenny needs her. And so Grace fights the heat and the smoke and the fear and the panic and the pain until she finds Jenny... but Grace doesn't have the strength to get them outside to safety. They are both rushed to the hospital. Grace has suffered severe head trauma, and Jenny has suffered bad burns and intense smoke inhalation.This story is told by Grace as if she's talking to her husband, and she has quite the story to tell. You see, she and Jenny both have out-of-body experiences. They leave their battered bodies and follow their friends and loved ones. They hear what's being said, and although they can talk with each other, no one else can see or hear them. A lot is being said because what was originally a tragic fire is really arson, and it also seems as though someone wants to make sure that Jenny dies. Did she see the person who started the fire?Grace's sister-in-law, Detective Sergeant Sarah MacBride, in many ways is the hero of this book. Her family has been dealt a devastating blow. Sarah wants to make sure that her family survives, and she goes about it the only way she knows how: by doing her job. Sarah proves to be tireless at tracking down witnesses, at searching for clues, at reading interview transcripts and teasing out tiny inconsistencies and peculiar word choices. She simply will not give up.Although the ultimate ending of the book really comes as no surprise, I enjoyed Lupton's meticulous plotting of the investigation. This is the sort of case which relies on listening to how people say things as well as listening to what they don't say. It is a case of nuance and shadow. Taken simply as a mystery, this is an excellent read. But Grace Covey takes this book beyond mystery and whodunit. As she watches her husband and son, as she talks with Jenny, and as she follows Sarah, she learns what extraordinary people her family members are. She learns about herself. And she learns that "the last of the senses to go is love."This is an extraordinary read that kept me mesmerized from first page to last-- often with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. If you have someone in your life whom you love more than life itself, you will also be deeply affected by this book. In her depth of characterization and psychological nuance, Rosamund Lupton reminds me of Louise Penny. Like Penny, Lupton can take subject matter that's profoundly sad and create something very beautiful and life-affirming. I was impressed by Lupton's first book, Sister. I am blown away by Afterwards.
I'm sitting here in my recliner, trying to think where I want to start with this review. Should I start with what I disliked first? Or should I talk about how it emotionally made me feel? Or should I just talk about how close this book came to being extra-special, but ended up missing the mark in a pretty big way?The first thing a reader should know before even opening this book is how awkward the writing style truly is. To me, this is where the book ruined itself before it even began. I actually abhorred the writing style. There were several occasions where I slammed the book down and said out loud that I couldn't do it. I know what the author was trying to do. I even respect what the author was trying to do. But it seemed unnecessarily gimmicky and over the top. Rather than try to explain how messed up the second person POV and writing style were, I'm just going to quote it and let you see for yourself. Sometimes that's better."Who did he get to blame my son?" Your anger hurling the words at her."I've no idea what you're on about," she says. "Tell him I want to speak to him," you say. You turn to go."Wait. I haven't finished! I told you, you need to hear the truth.""I have to get back to my daughter."You start to leave, but she comes after you. "The accident in the playground was Robert Fleming's fault, nothing to do with Silas."You hurry on, not listening. But for a moment I think of eight-year old Robert Fleming, who bullied Adam so horribly.I think that's a pretty decent example of what the writing style was like. Now, imagine that over and over again, constantly, throughout the entire book. And there is the problem. I actually had to train myself to deal with the writing style. But I did. I got used to it. I never ended up learning to like it, but more or less endured it. And then there were the random but abundant italics. They were all over the place, and for no good reason. I mean why? Imagine if I just stuck random words in italics throughout this review. Can you picture how annoying that would be? No more to say about that. I just don't understand the point in doing that. It made no sense.But the truth is, even though there is a lot about this book to complain about, I still loved it. The story itself was brilliant, and even though I didn't care for the writing style, it did create this wonderful feeling of foreboding. I felt like I was spending the entire book in the eye of a storm and you just knew something terrible was going to happen eventually. I loved the author's way with words. I loved Grace's observations of everything that was going on around her. Unraveling the mystery slowly and from her point of view was agonizing, but at the same time, riveting. It was mental torture. But in a good way.And the thing is? I know I am completely contradicting myself all over the place in this review. But I don't know how else to do it. Because I still really disliked the writing style. But at the same time, I don't believe this story could have been told in a different POV. It just wouldn't have had the same effect. So I'm conflicted. Let's put it this way. I would definitely recommend this book to mystery and whodunit fans. But don't expect it to be like a standard mystery. Because it isn't. And even though it's close to 400 pages, it does read really fast. It's also a fun ride trying to solve the mystery and figure out who started the fire. I solved it with 100 pages to go, but I didn't arrive at my solution the same way the author did. So there were still surprises to be had for me even though I knew how it was was going to end. Just try it if you think it sounds like something you might like. You may love it.
Wow! I really don't know how else to describe this book. An interesting take on two badly injured family members. The story of what happened to cause the injury has so many twists and turns that it was dizzying! Every time I was certain that I knew who did it, something happened to make me doubt my conclusion. This is also the story of family, love and sacrifice. A family is supposed to love unconditionally, and you will find that here. You will also find disappointment and disillusion. A community that is pitted against each other and desperate to find a scapegoat for the woundssuffered by their picture perfect little world. Few pictures are without flaws. Much like humans. Grace and Jenny learning what they don't know about each other as mother and daughter. Rowena and Maisie, another mother and daughter, and their stories are intertwined. Thereis a much wider cast of characters and each and every one of them is worth getting to know. I loved this story, Highly recommended.
Once again Rosamund Lupton has written an incredibly interesting novel that presents a mystery with a twist. Afterwards is about a mother who runs into a burning building in search of her daughter who she knows is still within. Both mother and daughter suffer critical injuries and are taken to the same hospital where they are able to communicate with each other in an out of body type of experience. Together they learn that the fire was arson and probably was directed toward daughter Jen. In their other worldy journey they try to solve the mystery regarding who set the fire in an attempt to clear the name of 8 year old Addie, Jen's younger brother.The twists and turns regarding the investigation keep you guessing until the very end. The characters are sharp and well written and any number of them could be the arsonist. I love Lupton's approach. She uses the spirits of the victims as the vehicle to unravel the mystery. Certainly this provides a very different angle on mystery solving. As in Sister, she writes a very unique and captivating story. I highly recommend this one and urge everyone to read Afterwards now not later.
I read Rosamund Lupton's debut novel 'Sister' last year. You may remember me raving about it - it was a fantastic read. I jumped at the chance to read her second novel - Afterwards. Another absolutely brilliant read - one I would highly, highly recommend! I was hooked from the opening paragraph of the prologue. "I couldn't move, not even a little finger or a flicker of an eye. I couldn't open my mouth to scream....Only one thing for it, I said to myself, thinking of you, and I slipped out of the wrecked ship of my body into the black ocean." Grace Covey is volunteering at the outdoor sports day at her son Adam's private school. Her older child Jenny is working inside as the school nurse that day. When a fire breaks out, Grace races to find her children. Knowing Jenny is still trapped in the building, Grace runs into the burning building. She finds her, but the two of them are terribly injured. Cue prologue. Yes, Grace and Jenny are able to leave their ruined bodies. Now, anyone thinking this might be a mainly paranormal type of read is wrong. Honestly, Afterwards is so many different reads. In the beginning I saw it strictly as a mystery. Grace and Jenny are able to follow along with the investigation into the fire - for it was arson. And Grace and Jenny cannot communicate with the 'outside' world. Piece by piece, along with the victims, we are able to cobble together what really happened that day. There is much more to this fire than meets the eye. Lupton employs many twists and turns and some red herrings along the way that kept me guessing at the identity of the 'culprit' until the last few chapters. But, in addition to the mystery is the deeper story - that of a mother, daughter, son, husband and father. Grace's love for her children is achingly beautiful, powerful and so poignant. (Hint - have tissues ready for the last few chapters - I finished the book with tears in my eyes) Lupton uses a second person point of view that takes a bit of getting used to in the beginning, but it works for this story. I can't see it being told in any other fashion. Once I finish writing a review, I head out on the net to see what others think. I was quite surprised to see there were mixed reviews on this book. For this reader, it was an absolutely addicting, stay up late read.
I picked up this book because a review in Maclean¿s described it as a ¿literary crime novel¿ and I¿m glad I did. It is not flawless but is eminently readable.There is a fire at a private elementary school. A parent, Grace Covey, rushes in to check on Jenny, her 17-year-old daughter who is assisting at the school¿s sports day. The two are critically injured. Caught between life and death, the two are able to follow family members and investigators who quickly determine that the fire was arson and Jenny a target. There are two major questions in the remainder of the book: Who was trying to kill Jenny? Will Grace and Jenny survive?The narration may present problems to some readers. First of all, some suspension of disbelief is required since Grace, the narrator, exists on some quasi-spiritual plane where she (and Jenny) could best be described as having a protracted out-of-body experience. Unfortunately, the parameters of their state are never clearly delineated. For instance, Grace describes physical pain when she leaves the confines of the hospital; she refers to her skin being scalded by warm air and gravel cutting into her unprotected feet (130, 197) although she quickly (too conveniently?) develops a tolerance for the pain. Spiritual beings have physical sensations? The point of view is second person, the ¿you¿ being Grace¿s husband. Coupled with the use of present tense, the narration is sometimes awkward.There is sufficient suspense created by the requisite twists and red herrings, although the use of a bungling police officer, Detective Inspector Baker, seems contrived. Fortunately for the investigation, Detective Sergeant Sarah McBride, Grace¿s sister-in-law, takes unofficial charge. Unfortunately, she is sometimes just too perfect, making not a single misstep, so that a romantic indiscretion seems thrown in to humanize her. Point of view is used well to create suspense; Grace and Jenny occasionally have information unknown to the others but they have no way of communicating to assist with the investigation. The ending is foreshadowed very early on so it is not a shock. Grace comments that in life, ¿There is no happy ever after¿ (383), but the ending is nonetheless satisfying and strangely uplifting.The novel is more than a mystery in that it focuses considerable attention to developing character and theme. Grace, for instance, is a dynamic character. She acknowledges some of her negative traits, particularly a tendency towards envy, and gradually realizes that she has misjudged people, especially her sister-in-law, and that she doesn¿t really know her teenaged daughter. If there is a weakness in this element it is that Grace seems to have been very unperceptive and a very poor judge of character.The theme of family love ¿ the love that exists between spouses, between parents and children, and between siblings ¿ is thoroughly developed. Grace summarizes it well: ¿Other people can write the great book, paint the wonderful painting, because I don¿t need a work of art to speak for me . . . my family will do that¿ (375). In the novel, there is actually more than one family that speaks about love.Despite its weaknesses, this book is an enjoyable read; time will pass quickly as its pages are turned.
Really enjoyed the unique narration angle
Incredibly original. What a beautiful love story/mystery. The love of a mother for her kids, the love of the husband and wife. Tears were flowing on quite a few pages. The story is told in an original way and really kept me engaged to the last page. A different kind of happy ending. I highly recommend this book!!!
Although it was marketed as mainstream fiction, the premise of this novel is that the minds/souls/consciousness of people who are unconscious and near death can travel out of their bodies until they either die or regain consciousness. This is what happens to Grace Covey and her daughter Jenny when they are both critically injured in a fire. Since the cause of the fire was arson, this also has the aspect of a police procedural, giving it a plot. The mystery is, however much more intricate than Lock In’s, and Grace and Jenny follow the investigators, including Grace’s sister-in-law Sara, around as they work the case. Nothing, especially people, is what it seems. The novel is set in contemporary south London in England, Grace’s husband is an on-screen personality for the BBC, and their son Adam is a suspect. I found it slow moving but ultimately worth reading.
This is an amazing book. Grab your tissues it is heartbreaking but heartwarming as well.
I really loved this book,was torn between wanting to know who did it and not wanting it to end. It was a very unique psychological thriller surrounded by a mothers love. I have enjoyed both her books and cant wait fir the next one.
Buy this book u won't be sorry