After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell #AfterYoudGone #MaggieOFarrell @TinderPress #BookReview

After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell

Originally published: 2000

Author: Maggie O’Farrell

Published by: Tinder Press

Genre: Literary Fiction

Length: 384 pages

Reading dates: 14-18 April 2023

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 a family’s heart.

Iā€™m following a challenge over on Instagram to read a #NeglectedRead ā€“ one of those books I rushed out to buy, by an author I love and has languished on my TBR ever since. My April choice was After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell. I’m a huge Maggie O’Farrell fan but still have a lot of her back catalogue to get through and I’d decided I’d make a start when I purchased this in December 2020 but of course it languished!

In After You’d Gone we meet Alice. She is obviously troubled as the book begins and on a whim, decides to travel from her home in London to Edinburgh and meets her surprised sisters Beth and Kirsty for a coffee at the train station. She pops to the toilet and while there sees something “odd and unexpected and sickening” in a toilet mirror that sends her into turmoil. She comes back from the toilet, says goodbye to her shocked sisters and immediately gets back on a train to London. The same day, she is hit by a car and ends up in a coma.

I can’t stop thinking about this book which was Maggie O’Farrell’s debut. It is just remarkable. We go back to when Alice’s parents Ann and Ben met, how they move in with Ben’s mother Elspeth in the small seaside town of North Berwick and have 3 children together. The story unfolds through the point of view of various characters – Alice, Ann and Elspeth particularly but the story isn’t told in chronological order – it bounces about between viewpoints and timelines, often in the same chapter. There is no indication of what year we are in but somehow it just works as the elements all come together and I just loved this book.

Alice is the main focus of this book and we hear about key moments of her childhood, teenage and adult years. Without giving anything away it is obvious from the beginning that something has happened that has left Alice lost and alone in London.

A terribly sad read, I was completely engaged and it was a book I wanted to pick up at every opportunity. A love story at heart, I can’t explain how much I loved this book. Alice’s story is certainly going to stay with me and I will be recommending it to everyone!

About the author:

Maggie Author Pic
Maggie O’Farrell

Maggie O’Farrell was born in Coleraine, Northern Ireland, and grew up in Wales and Scotland.
She has worked as a journalist, both in Hong Kong and as the deputy literary editor of The Independent on Sunday. She has also taught creative writing.
O’Farrell is married to fellow novelist William Sutcliffe, whom she met at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. They now live together in Edinburgh, with their three children.

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