After You'd Gone: Book summary and reviews of After You'd Gone by Maggie O'Farrell

After You'd Gone

By Maggie O'Farrell

After You'd Gone
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2001,
    372 pages.

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Book Summary

A young woman named Alice Raikes boards a train to Scotland to visit her family. But when she arrives, she witnesses something so shocking that she insists on returning to London that very minute. Only a few hours later, Alice is lying in a coma after an accident that may or may not have been a suicide attempt.

With Alice's life hanging in the balance, her family gathers at her bedside. As they wait, argue, and remember, long-buried tensions rise to the surface. The more they talk, the more, it seems, they conceal from each other. Alice, meanwhile, sliding between different levels of consciousness, recalls her past and a recent love affair. Skipping around in time, knitting together the different points of view with astonishing dexterity and beautiful prose, Maggie O'Farrell has created a story of love and family relationships that is reminiscent of the very best of Edna O'Brien and Mary Gordon. With one of the most heart-stopping openings in modern fiction, After You'd Gone is a work of extraordinary psychological depth and impressive maturity.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"It is hard to believe that such an assured work comes from a first novelist ... Published originally in the UK to good reviews, it should appeal to fans of Mary Gordon and Margaret Atwood, though it will draw a more popular audience than the latter." - Library Journal.

"Sharply observed details of everyday life and language, original and telling figures of speech and deftly handled plot twists reach a moving climax, while subtly raising the question of whether the objects of Alice's affection - and the sources of her agony - were worth enduring." - Publishers Weekly.

"The complex structure works beautifully, communicating the shared and interlocking sufferings of the Raikes women through its carefully worked-out layering of narrative lines. Often painful to read, but finally quite satisfying." - Kirkus Reviews.

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Author Information

Maggie O'Farrell Author Biography

Double Vision

Maggie O'Farrell was born in Northern Ireland in 1972, and grew up in Wales and Scotland. She now lives in Edinburgh with her family.

Her debut novel, After You'd Gone, was published to international acclaim, and won a Betty Trask Award, while her third, The Distance Between Us, won the 2005 Somerset Maugham Award.

O'Farrell is married to William Sutcliffe, author of New Boy (1996), Are You Experienced? (1997), The Love Hexagon (2000) , Bad Influence (2004) and Whatever Makes You Happy (2008).

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