After The Fall by Julie Cohen

afterthefall

Length: 390 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: From the author who brought you Dear Thing, Julie Cohen, comes After the Fall–a poignant, beautifully heartbreaking novel about what it means to be family, the ties that bind us, and the secrets that threaten to tear us apart.

When an unfortunate accident forces Honor back into the lives of her widowed daughter-in-law, Jo, and her only granddaughter, Lydia, she cannot wait to be well enough to get back to her own home. However, the longer she stays with Jo and Lydia, the more they start to feel like a real family. But each of the three women is keeping secrets from the others that threaten to destroy the lives they’ve come to know.

Honor’s secret threatens to rob her of the independence she’s guarded ferociously for eighty years.

Jo’s secret could destroy the “normal” family life she’s fought so hard to build and maintain.

Lydia’s secret could bring her love–or the loss of everything that matters most to her.

One summer’s day, grandmother, mother and daughter’s secrets will be forced out in the open in a single dramatic moment that leaves them all asking: is there such a thing as second chances?

The Review: Funnily enough I had actually seen the opening line for this book on a weekly meme where the blogger in question (I’m so sure I know who posted, but I’ve been searching and searching and I honestly cannot find the post. It’s driving me loco so if anyone can help I’d beyond appreciate it and will update this post) puts the opening line of a book out there to see if people would find it enough of a hook to reel them in and make them read. My answer was a resounding ‘yes!’ (exclamation mark very much necessary)

‘The last stage of Honor Levinson’s life began at the top of the stairs in her home in North London.’

Honor, or ‘Doctor Levinson,’ as she prefers to be known, is a strong, feisty, independent eighty year old, who detests shows of emotion or weakness of any kind and so does not take kindly to playing the part of elderly patient after a fall from the top of the stairs (brilliantly done) in her home. Honor was an excellent character, who had me from the start, pointing out the realities of getting old, where you feel exactly how you did when you were younger, but those around you treat you as they would a child, or worse than. This was skillfully backed up by a trip back in time, and some old letters, where we found out Honor’s tragic backstory.

We were treated to numerous point of views, all in third person, always a plus for me; that of Honor of course, then Jo, her daughter in law, who’s putting a brave face on the absence of two father’s for her children, one passed (we are put on tenter hooks to find out how), one who has run off with the twenty one year old au pair. Jo learned from her mother, who had MS, that one should always grasp onto the silver linings for dear life, and the result is a positivity of magnanimous proportions, and some ‘mom-lit’ type incidences which provided respite in a book that erred on the slightly greyer side at times. Jo has two young children from her second marriage, and also the lovely Lydia, who tells her story with the accompaniment of a diary that shares how difficult a time she is having as a teenager having not yet come out. Her thoughts, insights and actions really made me feel for her, they were beautiful and heartbreaking and I worried.

After The Fall is the story of a family that was collapsing in on itself, where each woman (or girl), was an island, struggling to find their place, not realizing who they need to help them. I enjoyed it and looked forward to seeing what would happen when secrets were revealed and everyone had to face up to their issues. I especially enjoyed the second half of the book, where things evened out for me, not even in terms of becoming more positive, but just where there seemed to be a little more action, although I have no doubt some people will disagree. I know this is probably an odd review, but it’s a difficult book in that respect, as I enjoyed it as I read, and looked forward to what was going to happen, but found it difficult to place, possibly as I read so many out and out romantic comedies. As well as this it didn’t leave a lasting impression after I finished, which surprised me. It will, however, be a real treat for some out there, with excellent characters, tangible descriptiveness and a storyline that carries you with it. Thanks to St Martin’s press and Netgalley for the book in return for an honest review.

 Rating: 4/5

 

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