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From the author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller Sister comes a compelling, thrilling story of a mother who will do anything to protect her child.
 
   The school is on fire. Her children are inside.
   Grace runs toward the burning building, desperate to reach them.
   In the aftermath of the devastating fire which tears her family apart, Grace embarks on a mission to find the person responsible and protect her children from further harm.  This fire was not an accident, and her daughter Jenny may still be in grave danger. Grace is the only one who can discover the culprit, and she will do whatever it takes to save her family and find out who committed the crime that rocked their lives.  While unearthing truths about her life that may help her find answers, Grace learns more about everyone around her -- and finds she has courage she never knew she possessed.
   Powerful and beautiful, with a riveting story and Lupton’s trademark elegant style that made Sister such a sweeping success, Afterwards explores the depths of a mother’s unswerving love.
Published: Crown Publishing Group an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on Apr 24, 2012
ISBN: 9780307716569
List price: $9.99
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Afterwards is a mystery about arson at a private school. It is narrated by Grace, a mother who was caught up in the fire while trying to rescue her teenager, Jenny. Grace and Jenny both remain unconscious in the hospital throughout the novel, but their “spirits” are able to observe what is going on around them in out-of-body experiences. Through their observations, conversations with each other, and their memories, the mystery is gradually unraveled.This was a page-turner for me. I was caught up in the story and needed to see how it ended. I also grew to care for many of the characters. I think that having Grace’s “spirit” tell the story worked quite well. But the narration is a second-person narration, as Grace is meant to be telling the story to her husband. This tripped me up quite frequently. When Grace was talking to/about people other than her husband, the words flowed well. But then I’d hit a sentence like “You came into the room…”, and wham! I’d have to stop and re-remember that “you” is her husband. It would throw me out of the story for a bit.Disclosure: I received a free Kindle review copy from netgalley.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
It’s going to be difficult to review Afterwards without giving too much away, so excuse me if I’m deliberately vague. Afterwards is one of those stories that evolves bit by bit and if you rush it, you run the risk of spoiling the whole thing. There is a fire and a mother, Grace, tries to rescue her daughter. Having saved her daughter from death (for now at least) she wants desperately to uncover who started the fire that nearly deprived her of a child.Thus begins an incredibly compelling mystery with some very strange twists and turns. I’ll won’t go into the reasons Grace is restricted in her investigations – I’ll allow you to discover those for yourself – but they certainly add a very surreal dimension to this tale.Lupton proved with Sister that she’s capable of writing great suspense and developing a good plot. More than that, she has a real knack for writing about family relationships and not just cosy, ‘everybody’s happy’ relationships but instead gritty, fraught and difficult ones. In Sister we saw the relationship between two sisters laid bare. In Afterwards the mother-daughter relationship receives the same thorough examination.Afterwards is a story of jealousy, anger, fear, loss, hope, love and protection all rolled into one. If you can get all the way through this book without a tear in your eye or a lump in your throat at any point, you’re made of sterner stuff than me!**Review originally published on Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dave. I received a copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I did not receive any additional compensation and all views are my own.**read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.read more
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Afterwards is a mystery about arson at a private school. It is narrated by Grace, a mother who was caught up in the fire while trying to rescue her teenager, Jenny. Grace and Jenny both remain unconscious in the hospital throughout the novel, but their “spirits” are able to observe what is going on around them in out-of-body experiences. Through their observations, conversations with each other, and their memories, the mystery is gradually unraveled.This was a page-turner for me. I was caught up in the story and needed to see how it ended. I also grew to care for many of the characters. I think that having Grace’s “spirit” tell the story worked quite well. But the narration is a second-person narration, as Grace is meant to be telling the story to her husband. This tripped me up quite frequently. When Grace was talking to/about people other than her husband, the words flowed well. But then I’d hit a sentence like “You came into the room…”, and wham! I’d have to stop and re-remember that “you” is her husband. It would throw me out of the story for a bit.Disclosure: I received a free Kindle review copy from netgalley.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
It’s going to be difficult to review Afterwards without giving too much away, so excuse me if I’m deliberately vague. Afterwards is one of those stories that evolves bit by bit and if you rush it, you run the risk of spoiling the whole thing. There is a fire and a mother, Grace, tries to rescue her daughter. Having saved her daughter from death (for now at least) she wants desperately to uncover who started the fire that nearly deprived her of a child.Thus begins an incredibly compelling mystery with some very strange twists and turns. I’ll won’t go into the reasons Grace is restricted in her investigations – I’ll allow you to discover those for yourself – but they certainly add a very surreal dimension to this tale.Lupton proved with Sister that she’s capable of writing great suspense and developing a good plot. More than that, she has a real knack for writing about family relationships and not just cosy, ‘everybody’s happy’ relationships but instead gritty, fraught and difficult ones. In Sister we saw the relationship between two sisters laid bare. In Afterwards the mother-daughter relationship receives the same thorough examination.Afterwards is a story of jealousy, anger, fear, loss, hope, love and protection all rolled into one. If you can get all the way through this book without a tear in your eye or a lump in your throat at any point, you’re made of sterner stuff than me!**Review originally published on Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dave. I received a copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I did not receive any additional compensation and all views are my own.**
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A very moving ending and plenty of surprises as to the perpetrators of the crime and their motives. I had to keep reminding myself who Grace was speaking to when she mentioned 'you' but that's most likely because a book is not so often written as if directed at another character. I felt Grace waffled a little in her thoughts occasionally but, apart from that, I enjoyed this book.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Gracie's a comfortable mother of two children, one of whom, Adam, attends an expensive private school in London, and the other, Jenny, is working at the school as she prepares to retake her A levels. On the morning of field day, as she stands watching the children and her son has been sent to the school building with the daughter of her best friend to retrieve his birthday cake, she sees smoke rising from the building and, running over, finds the school on fire. She sees her son is safely outside, but can't find her daughter, who was working up on the third floor. There's an odd twist to the narration of this story that took a little adjusting to; Gracie tells the story in the first person, from the events of the day of the fire and then forward as she lies in a coma in a hospital bed. She's able to roam around the hospital invisibly, and soon decides that it's vital to discover who set the fire and why. This really, really shouldn't work. I spent the first chapters wondering if Lupton had decided to write sentimental weep-fests instead of crime novels, but soon it became clear that this was a mystery and one full of possible suspects and motives. Lupton made both the unconventional set up work and when the culprit was finally revealed, it was both a surprise, and someone indicated from the beginning.
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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.
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