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After Me Comes the Flood (2014)

by Sarah Perry

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19115102,469 (2.94)12
One hot summer's day, John Cole decides to leave his life behind. He shuts up the bookshop no one ever comes to and drives out of London. When his car breaks down and he becomes lost on an isolated road, he goes looking for help, and stumbles into the grounds of a grand but dilapidated house. Its residents welcome him with open arms but there's more to this strange community than meets the eye. They all know him by name, they've prepared a room for him, and claim to have been waiting for him all along. As nights and days pass John finds himself drawn into a baffling menagerie. There is Hester, their matriarchal, controlling host; Alex and Claire, siblings full of child-like wonder and delusions; the mercurial Eve; Elijah a faithless former preacher haunted by the Bible; and chain-smoking Walker, wreathed in smoke and hostility. Who are these people? And what do they intend for John? Elegant, gently sinister and psychologically complex, After Me Comes The Flood is a haunting and hypnotic debut novel by a brilliant new voice.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Read the first 43 pages. Would absolutely recommend to someone in the mood for a British gothic novel with an unreliable narrator. I may come back to it later, I just wasn't in the mood for it this summer. See also: Sarah Waters.

Quotes

I felt as if I'd tried to cross a small stream, sure I'd reach the bank in a stride or two, and suddenly found myself in a strong current, borne out to sea. (19)
  JennyArch | Jul 18, 2020 |
This book is due for an American release, but since it was published in the UK in 2014, I'm publishing the review now.

Drought grips London and the surrounding country and John decides to visit his brother on the coast. Before long his car overheats and John idly wanders into the nearby woods and happens upon an old brick house. The residents there have been expecting him, and even greet him by name.

Most of the book keeps up this great feeling of suspense - John feels like an imposter, but is unable to own up to his deception - the people of the house invite him into their interior lives and the narrative breaks from John to give most of the residents a chance to recap their history and how they came to the house.

As a reader sometimes it is difficult to tell if a book was unsatisfying because of some oversight on my part or on the part of the author. There were times when the narrative voice changing felt jarring and was occasionally unclear. At the same time the characters made sense in the hazy summer heat-stricken world of the novel.

I enjoyed Perry's other two novels, but this one left me with doubts. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Jan 6, 2020 |
Sarah Perry's After Me Comes the Flood is one of those titles that asks you to sink into and uncertain world and embrace that uncertainty. It's characters all have secrets; most have histories of mental illness; it's set in an isolated and decaying house. If you like slipping into a somewhat dark read, with the reading itself being the purpose, rather than reaching a definitive conclusion, you will enjoy this book. ( )
  Sarah-Hope | Dec 26, 2019 |
I was given this ARC of After Me Comes the Flood by Edelweiss+ in exchange for a fair and honest review.

John Cole decides to close up his book store and visit his brother. Along the way, his car overheats and he pulls off to the side of the road. He finds a path and follows it, looking for water. John comes upon a house, knocks on the door, and when it's answered he's pulled inside by a young lady who seems to know his name and to have been expecting him.

This story takes place over a week. It is a week of John pretending to be someone he is not, while staying in a house where, it seems, most of the occupants suffer from some sort of mental illness, phobia, and the sort. Nothing really happens.

It took me a lot longer to get through this book than it should have. With the amount of pages, I should have been finished within a few hours at most. It took me days. I wanted to like the book. I did sympathize with a couple of the characters. However, it is hard for me to even type this review. It was that unimpressionable. I just didn't get the point of the story. ( )
  tmiller1018 | Dec 24, 2019 |
''What surprises me isn't that we sin, but that we manage a single good action in all of our lives.''

A strange array of people has gathered in a cottage in the marshlands. An endless heatwave and the unbearable drought create a suffocating atmosphere that gives rise to the boiling conflicts between the members of the fellowship. One of them is John Cole, an enigmatic Londoner, who has found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Who are these people? Why are they there, battling a cruel summer and each other? What is the story of the houses and why does John feel watched and threatened?

''I've been listening for footsteps on the stairs or voices in the garden, but there's only the sound of a household keeping quiet.''

This is the debut novel of Sarah Perry, the astonishing writer who has given us the beautiful The Essex Serpent and the inimitable, shuttering Melmoth. As always, Perry's story is woven in rich atmosphere and symbolism. There is an eerie quietness and the ''heavy'' feeling of rain that never comes. A strange name appears everywhere and must not be uttered. Questions of identity, secret desires, hallucinating dreams. Everyone's minds are occupied by a nameless threat that is lurking and the fear of a flood permeates the story. With a dreamy combination of an underlying sexuality and themes of Religion, Perry creates a novel that requires patience, dedication and a certain clarity of mind.

''Where is the horse gone'', she read. ''Where the rider...'' ''...and where the giver of treasure...''

''Someone had broken the spine of a book and left it open on the lawn, and near the windows rosebushes had withered back to stumps. A ginger cat with weeping eyes was stretched out in the shade between them, panting in the sun.''

I won't insult your intelligence by being Miss Obvious, stating what a unique writer Sarah Perry is. This is universally acknowledged. She has taken all the characteristics of British Mystery and the effect of the atmospheric marshlands to compose a story where paranoia and seduction are highlighted by strange bird cries, fleeting visions of a woman in black and a door that must remain closed. In rich symbolism and Gothic motifs, Perry paints a story where no one moves for fear of revealing themselves and their motives.

''When I was young, it used to frighten me- I didn't think a painting should look at me like that. Sometimes I'd stand directly in front of it, and see my own reflected face laid over hers, and I would wonder which of us was painted, and who was watching whom''

Sarah Perry's novel is like a mysterious, sultry summer evening. Like all her books, After Me Comes The Flood is a very particular story for very particular readers...

''I gave my love an apple, I
gave my love a pear;
I gave my love a kiss on the
lips
And threw him down the
stairs.''

Many thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.wordpress.com/ ( )
  AmaliaGavea | Dec 7, 2019 |
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