Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The author took a big risk with the concept of this book - a novel narrated by the spirit of a woman in a coma, whose astral body wanders at will around the hospital in which she lies accompanied by the spirit if her daughter with whom she can converse. I had a few niggling doubts right at the start as to whether it would work - however it did and in style, the authors skilled accomplished writing saw to that.
Grace is Mum to teenage Jenny and 8 year old Addie. At the beginning of the book Grace and Jenny both lie in deep unconsciousness in hospital following a harrowing experience in a fire at the school Addie attends, where 16 year old Jenny is a trainee teaching assistant.
When Grace becomes aware that she is experiencing an out of body experience in the hospital, she starts to examine events surrounding the fire which has left her in a coma and Jenny badly injured and soon comes to the conclusion that it was arson. Who started it? This is the question Grace is desperate to find the answer to for whoever started this terrible fire may also have wanted Jenny dead.
We are introduced to some very real characters and as Grace follows investigations, coming to her own conclusions and speaking throughout, unheard to her husband we are taken on a real switchback ride, until we no longer know who can be trusted and suspect the likely and far less likely culprits in turn.
I found the story a touch confusing especially when Grace keeps addressing her thoughts to her husband and I had to suspend disbelief in the slightly supernatural element, the whys and wherefores of which are glossed over and you just have to accept that its the way things happen in this book. However the unputdownableness of this page turner and its many red herrings which are gradually revealed like layers of an onion being peeled make it a hugely enjoyable and worthwhile read.
Its a hugely emotional novel, focussing strongly on the depth of love surviving beyond consciousness and I can guarantee if you don't shed a tear by the end you have a heart of stone.
I'd highly recommend it to anyone who liked books like The Lovely Bones
and Her Fearful Symmetryand of course Rosamund Luptons previous, debut novel the excellent Sister.
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