Just finished reading Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton and must say that this is a great second novel – although it is not a follow up to Sister (just thought I’d make that clear). I think Rosamund Lupton is definitely proving herself to be a highly imaginative writer who can provide what basically appears to be a thriller – but with a surprisingly supernatural take and a twist at the end.
I won’t really go into the plot as I think this will spoil the read, to quote Amazon:
There is a fire and they are in There. They are in there . . .
Black smoke stains a summer blue sky. A school is on fire. And one mother, Grace, sees the smoke and runs. She knows her teenage daughter Jenny is inside. She runs into the burning building to rescue her.
Afterwards, Grace must find the identity of the arsonist and protect her family from the person who’s still intent on destroying them. Afterwards, she must fight the limits of her physical strength and discover the limitlessness of love.
This is a very emotional read – particularly the ending when tissues are recommended! But, it is also gripping and again the author manages to write in such a way that throughout the novel you suspect everyone! And, you’re convinced you’re right with each guess but basically she’s just pulling you along and keeping you guessing all the way. I didn’t see the final outcome – at all – I have to admit. Actually I never guessed the ending in Sister either.
Basically we have another thriller with a race to find the culprit before further damage can be inflicted – and then we have the supernatural element – which basically you will find out about after reading virtually the first page – but, I’m not going to say what it is here as I think it will give people preconceived ideas. Just to eliminate a few themes that may put people off – when I say supernatural, I’m not talking of vampires, werewolves, fantasy, fallen angels, etc, and I’m not trying to be really criptic, just a bit careful. I could make a comparison, but to be honest, I’m not always overly pleased with comparisons. I suppose it has a ghost like quality – without being ghosts. I’m not really proving very articulate here so I’m going to leave it alone and you’ll just have to read the book!
In terms of the characters I would say my favourite is Sarah. She was such a strong individual. She took risks and clearly loves her brother and his family, and in spite of a coolness that has obviously existed in the past between Grace (who tells the story) and Sarah she throws herself wholeheartedly into the search for a culprit. Plus, she’s quick and passionate. I liked the way that Grace finally saw her for who she really was and regretted that they’d not had a chance to get to know each other properly.
In terms of criticisms. I think that some of the characters were a bit stereotype. Plus I think the family themselves were given a bit too much sugary sweetness and came across too perfect. The only other thing, at over 400 pages I think it could have been shortened slightly just to make it have a more punchy feel.
But, having said that, I think RL is great at writing an emotional novel. She also seems to now be developing a trait of leaving you to draw some of your own conclusions at the end and I think it will be interesting to see if she continues in this vein and she is an expert at leading you down the wrong path (but in a way where you’re so sure you’ve been really clever and second guessed the ending – only to find in the following chapter – another path that you’re going to be taken down).
Definitely recommend. You will need to suspend your disbelief a little bit and also get to grips with who’s talking to who at some points of the story, but overall a great second novel.
Sister is the story of Beatrice and, unsurprisingly, her younger sister Tess. Beatrice and Tess, although a little like chalk and cheese and in spite of living a great distance apart, have a very strong and caring relationship so when Tess takes a phone call from her mother to say her sister has gone missing she immediately returns to London.
I really liked this book, I thought the relationship between the two sisters was wonderfully portrayed and emotional. And, I liked Beatrice. It was really great watching her suddenly unfold. She started the story as the more sensible, high flying, corporately successful but emotionally stunted of the two. As the story progresses Beatrice loses her inhibition (and snobbery) and begins a bit of a voyage of discovery about herself and her relationships. What was really good about Beatrice was her dogged determination to keep on searching for answers about Tess – even though everybody else had given up – and her own conviction that she knows Tess and the way she would act.
In terms of the plot of the book and the way it was constructed I thought it was really well done and I liked the idea of Beatrice writing the story to her sister Tess in the form of a letter. I wouldn’t advise you to pick this book up if you’re thinking along the lines of a pacy crime/thriller because this isn’t that sort of novel. There is a lot of detail and emotion and really the ‘plot’ was for me personally almost like a secondary element. Don’t get me wrong – I REALLY wanted to know what was going on, and, a bit like Beatrice I suspected absolutely everyone and was jumping about all over the place. Plus I was also totally intrigued about what was wrong with Beatrice. The ending completely surprised me, I didn’t see it coming at all. I had to stop in my tracks and rethink it but once I did I thought it was amazing. And refreshing. It did put me in mind of a couple of things but I can’t put anything more because it will give too much away and I hate plot spoilers.
Criticisms – on reflection a lot of the male characters in the book are really flawed – in fact if you really think about it there is only one character who was consistently kind, thoughtful and decent all the way through – and the ending totally turns that on it’s head – I would love to be able to say more but just cant! I would also love to be able to ask for an opinion on one particular element of the book towards the end which I really don’t understand but, again, I can’t (stamps feet childishly).
Also, I wouldn’t particularly compare Rosamund to Daphne du Maurier. I love DdM and in making this comparison you’re already holding the book up in a critical light before you even start – that being said, to be totally honest that’s probably the reason why I bought the book – out of curiosity – I don’t feel disappointed though. This was a really good read and I would recommend it.