I read Rosamund Lupton's debut novel 'Sister' last year. You may remember me raving about it - it was a fantastic read. (review here) I jumped at the chance to read her second novel - Afterwards. Another absolutely brilliant read - one I would highly, highly recommend!
I was hooked from the opening paragraph of the prologue.
"I couldn't move, not even a little finger or a flicker of an eye. I couldn't open my mouth to scream....Only one thing for it, I said to myself, thinking of you, and I slipped out of the wrecked ship of my body into the black ocean."
Grace Covey is volunteering at the outdoor sports day at her son Adam's private school. Her older child Jenny is working inside as the school nurse that day. When a fire breaks out, Grace races to find her children. Knowing Jenny is still trapped in the building, Grace runs into the burning building. She finds her, but the two of them are terribly injured. Cue prologue. Yes, Grace and Jenny are able to leave their ruined bodies. Now, anyone thinking this might be a mainly paranormal type of read is wrong.
Honestly, Afterwards is so many different reads. In the beginning I saw it strictly as a mystery. Grace and Jenny are able to follow along with the investigation into the fire - for it was arson. And Grace and Jenny cannot communicate with the 'outside' world. Piece by piece, along with the victims, we are able to cobble together what really happened that day. There is much more to this fire than meets the eye. Lupton employs many twists and turns and some red herrings along the way that kept me guessing at the identity of the 'culprit' until the last few chapters.
But, in addition to the mystery is the deeper story - that of a mother, daughter, son, husband and father. Grace's love for her children is achingly beautiful, powerful and so poignant. (Hint - have tissues ready for the last few chapters - I finished the book with tears in my eyes)
Rosamund Lupton read English Literature at Cambridge University. After a variety of jobs in London, including copy writing and reviewing for the Literary Review, she was a winner of Carlton Television's new writers' competition and was selected by the BBC for a place on their new writers' course. She was also invited to join the Royal Court Theatre's writers group. Before becoming a novelist, she was a script-writer for television and film, writing original screenplays. She lives in London with her husband, two children and Tango, a large ginger cat. You can find Lupton on Twitter and on Facebook.