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After You'd Gone by Maggie…
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After You'd Gone (original 2000; edition 2002)

by Maggie O'Farrell

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8653710,312 (3.89)76
Member:dreambeliever
Title:After You'd Gone
Authors:Maggie O'Farrell
Info:Penguin Books (2002), Edition: Reissue, Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Kindle, Read but unowned, Your library
Rating:***
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After You'd Gone by Maggie O'Farrell (2000)

Recently added byWassilissa, readinglife11, private library, kteeley, Nickelini, ccayne, HeathDAlberts, margen, coppers

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» See also 76 mentions

English (35)  Hungarian (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All languages (38)
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
O'Farrell has an amazing ability to bring you inside Alice's grief. ( )
  ccayne | Oct 16, 2014 |
Excellent prose. Jumps about a bit between years but not too problematic to story thread. Felt somewhat unfinished. ( )
  happyanddandy1 | Dec 28, 2013 |
Alice is the middle sister of three. One day, on a whim, she takes a train from her home in London to Edinburgh, Scotland, where her sisters Kirsty and Beth meet her at the station. However, Alice is only there a few minutes when she sees something so shocking that she turns right around and gets back on a train to London, without explaining to her sisters. In London, Alice steps into traffic and is struck by a car; she lies in a coma in the hospital. As her family rushes from Scotland to London, the family's history is revealed: Alice's paternal grandmother Elspeth's unhappy boarding school experience, her love for Alice's grandfather cut short by his early death; Alice's mother's similarly unhappy boarding school experience, and her marriage to Ben, who loves her deeply though she does not return his love; Alice's own misadventures in love, and finally her meeting with her husband John, whose father disapproves because Alice isn't Jewish. All of this is told mostly in the third person ("Alice...") but occasionally in first ("I..."); I'm not sure about the reason for this choice or its intended effect, but it isn't too confusing or distracting.

AFTER YOU'D GONE is the only Maggie O'Farrell book I've read so far in print (I listened to the others), and I read it in a day. Perhaps because this was her first novel, or perhaps because now I've read three of her others, I found it fairly easy to guess what it was that Alice had seen before I was halfway through the book, but that didn't detract from the story at all. Family secrets are O'Farrell's forte, but the secrets themselves wouldn't be so explosive if her character development wasn't also thorough and her writing so good at capturing recognizable nuggets of truth.

Only two more backlist titles to go, and then I'll have to wait for her next one...

Quotes

I don't believe in fate. I don't believe in cushioning your insecurities with a system of belief that tells you, 'Don't worry. This may be your life but you're not in control. There is something or someone looking out for you - it's already organised.' It's all chance and choice, which is much more frightening.
I'd like to think that as the lift swooped up the floors I sensed that something important was about to take place, that my life was about to split away from my expectation of it. But, of course, I didn't. Who ever does? Life's cruel like that - it gives you no clues. (85)

The strangest thing about this is that a thought can go on and on circling your mind, that you can't stop obsessing over it, that there are no brakes to apply to things you no longer want to think about. (92)

Love is easy and strange. I would ponder it...what was it about him that produced this effect in me? I could never decide definitively and had lists of both generalisations and detailed particulars... (187)

"Love is not changed by death and nothing is lost, and all in the end is harvest." -Julian of Norwich (202)

Alice sometimes worries that she might lose her grip on life....she can occasionally see how easily something in her could break and she'd be left spinning in a limbo of panic and disorder. (254)

What are you supposed to do with all the love you have for somebody if that person is no longer there? What happens to all that leftover love? Do you suppress it? Do you ignore it? Are you supposed to give it to someone else? (298)

But Ann knows in her heart that Alice has that knack of instantly recognizing the germ of any situation. (320)

She sits bolt upright. Her jaw is clenched so hard that the sides of her head ache. 'No, no, no." She grips handfuls of her hair as she starts sobbing uncontrollably - great wrenching gasps that make her cough and gulp for air.
For a week or so now, she's had this tiny, niggling suspicion that she's been quelling, ignoring, pushing to the back of her mind, refusing to acknowledge it.
She's forgetting his face. (331)

'Life goes on': so many people had said that to me. Yes, life fucking well goes on but what if you don't want it to? What if you want to arrest it, stop it, or even battle against the current into a past you don't want to be past? 'You'll get over it' - that was another. But I didn't want to get over it. I didn't want to become used to the fact that he'd died. That was the last thing I wanted. (336)

At times...she flies into a private and bitter rage, like nothing she's experienced since she was a child: what on earth do you do if, at the age of twenty-nine, you've lost the only person you know you can be happy with? Today, though, she's not being bitten at by anger. Today, she just wants him back, she just wants him back and it hurts more than she can ever say. (343) ( )
  JennyArch | Dec 15, 2013 |
This novel grips you from the first line, and keeps you constantly engaged. The protagonist, Alice, has always been a little different from her sisters, and the central moment of the book is when she finds out why. She’s strong, tempestuous, and fiercely loving, and when she chooses to die, she has good reasons. The story moves around freely, from her childhood all the way back to her grandmother’s childhood, and all the time Alice is on a hospital bed, in a coma. The freedom of the narrative works beautifully and gradually you find yourself living in Alice’s skin, and understanding why she is where she is. ( )
  astrologerjenny | Apr 25, 2013 |
Stunningly beautiful. Review to come. ( )
  shayanasha | Apr 5, 2013 |
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Epigraph
Whatever has happened, happens always
-- Andrew Greig

The past falls open anywhere
-- Michael Donaghy
Dedication
To my mother
for not being like Alice's
First words
The day she would try to kill herself, she realised winter was coming again.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0747268169, Paperback)

Maggie O'Farrell's groundbreaking debut: a stunning, best-selling story of wrenching love and grief. 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 the family's heart.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:18:50 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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 that she gets on the next train back to London, where a traffic accident leaves her in a coma.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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