Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton

Afterwards by Rosamund LuptonI read and reviewed Lupton’s first novel, Sister, earlier in the year and while I loved it I was left a tad confused and on the brink of unsatisfied by the ending. But this book? Wow. Utterly fabulous and I read it in a week – which is incredibly speedy for me. I couldn’t put the book down and even when I had little opportunity to read, it came with me, in my handbag, just in case.

The story is told by a mother who’s been in a fire, a terrible fire. Grace’s soul has separated from her physical body which lies unconscious in a hospital bed. She’s able to hear doctors give her husband the not so good prognosis, her son struggle to come to terms with what’s happened and also the police involvement. Was the fire an accident or a deliberate attempt to kill?

Grace’s teenage daughter lies in a hospital bed too, severely burned from the fire, and seriously ill. Their souls meet on the hospital ward and together they try and find out what happened, while waiting to see if their bodies pull through.

Not only is this an exceedingly clever plot, told from a unique viewpoint – a woman’s soul to her living husband – it’s written beautifully. The language is sophisticated, apt and touching.  And it illustrates how far a mother is willing to go to protect her family, even if her body isn’t her own.

It’s a huge notch above Sister and the ending wasn’t disappointing, save for the fact I’d miss reading this book. Turning each page of this novel was an absolute pleasure and I felt hugely connected to the stories and the characters. I cried a lot and felt Grace’s vulnerability and responsibility towards protecting her family; love conquers all.

And there are twists and turns in the plot that even I. a seasoned crime fiction fan, didn’t see coming.  An amazing read and very well done to Rosamund Lupton; I can’t wait for her next one.

Robyn’s rating 10/10

Posted: July 2011

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