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Cover image for Afterwards : a novel
Afterwards : a novel
1st American ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Crown, [2012]
Physical Description:
386 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
"From the author of the acclaimed bestseller Sister comes a gripping, thrilling story of a mother who will do anything to protect her child. The school was on fire, and Grace's last memory is of trying to reach her daughter, Jenny, trapped inside the inferno. While their burned bodies are frantically cared for by doctors, Grace and Jenny awaken in the hospital in a strange in-between state. When they learn that someone purposefully set the fire, and Jenny may still be in grave danger from someone who wants her dead, Grace realizes she may be the only one who can discover who might be responsible. The police are looking at Adam, Jenny's younger brother, who is struck mute by the horror he witnessed and can't defend himself when he is accused of the arson.


Call Number
Lupton, R.

On Order



From the author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller Sister comes a compelling, thrilling story of a mother who will do anything to protect her child.
   The school is on fire. Her children are inside.
   Grace runs toward the burning building, desperate to reach them.
   In the aftermath of the devastating fire which tears her family apart, Grace embarks on a mission to find the person responsible and protect her children from further harm.  This fire was not an accident, and her daughter Jenny may still be in grave danger. Grace is the only one who can discover the culprit, and she will do whatever it takes to save her family and find out who committed the crime that rocked their lives.  While unearthing truths about her life that may help her find answers, Grace learns more about everyone around her -- and finds she has courage she never knew she possessed.
   Powerful and beautiful, with a riveting story and Lupton's trademark elegant style that made Sister such a sweeping success, Afterwards explores the depths of a mother's unswerving love.

Author Notes

ROSAMUND LUPTON lives with her husband and two sons in London. She is the author of the widely praised New York Times bestseller Sister .

Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

A blaze at a suburban London school takes on sinister overtones in Lupton's superb follow-up to Sister (2010). During a sports day at the school of Grace Covey's son, Adam, the building catches fire, and Grace races inside when she realizes that her 17-year-old daughter, Jenny, a temporary teaching assistant, has not emerged. Defying official sanctions, Det. Sgt. Sarah McBride, Grace's sister-in-law, doggedly pursues the questions in the aftermath. These include the accusation that Adam set the blaze, though he's traumatized from the fire and unable to speak; the possible roles of investors, staff, journalists, and fired employees; and an earlier poisoned pen campaign against Jenny. Unusually, the gravely injured Grace and Jenny are having out-of-body experiences, wandering the hospital and other places in search of the truth, as Jenny remembers little of the day's events, and Grace is suspicious of Jenny's boyfriend, Ivo, and her daughter's other relationships. The uncommon but convincing narrative technique, adroit twists, and memorable characters combine to provide a wise and poignant portrait of a family confronted with malice and heartbreaking decisions. Agent: Felicity Blunt, Curtis Brown. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

No one is above suspicion when a cozy scenario of suburban family accord morphs into a full-throttle psychological thriller, ring-fenced by a mother's love. Happy middle-class facades crumble and suspects multiply like flu germs in the nonstop second novel by British publishing sensation Lupton (Sister, 2011), quirkily narrated by the out-of-body spirit of Grace, a brain-dead mother in the hospital, badly hurt when rescuing her 17-year-old daughter Jenny from a burning school set alight by an arsonist. Jenny, whose spirit is also hovering, has three weeks to live unless a transplant heart can be found. Now the two observe Grace's husband and son Adam trying to deal with the tragedy's aftermath while the policenotably sister-in-law Sarahinvestigate the fire. With each turn of the page, Lupton seems to add another element and motive to the mix: Jenny has a hate-mailing stalker; Adam has been bullied; Grace's best friend has an abusive husband; the school is in financial trouble. Sarah, like Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect, is the no-prisoners-taken investigating heroine who risks everything in pursuit of the truth, while Grace observes silently from her fourth dimension. The sinuous chain of plot twists reaches right to the story's literally heart-rending conclusion. Despite excessive length and the sense of suffocation that can arise from Grace's interiorscape, this compulsive read confirms Lupton's instinctive commercial flair.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* When her children's school catches on fire, Grace runs headlong into the inferno, determined to rescue her 17-year-old daughter, Jenny. But both end up unconscious and in critical condition in the hospital. It's there that the two find themselves unfettered from their bodies and able to travel the hospital hallways, where they learn that the fire was set deliberately and that Jenny was the target. Grace discovers a newfound appreciation for her sister-in-law, Sarah, a smart and determined detective whom Grace had previously thought to be cold and judgmental. As the gutsy Sarah homes in on the arsonist and provides Grace's devastated husband with emotional support, Grace rues the fact that they were never really friends. Grace must also comfort her daughter, who can barely stand to look at her severely burned face and whose chances of survival are only 50/50. Lupton takes her readers on a totally harrowing ride as she melds a suspenseful procedural with an emotionally fraught family drama. Within a taut and sinuous narrative, heartbreak over a broken family vies with fear that the arsonist will return to complete the job of killing Jenny. Masterful pacing and a highly charged atmosphere combine to make this an exceptionally gripping read. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: British author Lupton's first novel, Sister (2011), was both a New York Times best-seller and a Times Editors' Choice, and her stellar sophomore effort looks to keep the momentum going.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2010 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

Joseph Olshan has stepped up and written one for the home team. CLOUDLAND (Minotaur, $24.99) is set in the bleak Upper Connecticut River Valley that forms the border of Vermont and New Hampshire, a place where spring doesn't arrive until it's summer. Catherine Winslow, whose intimate narrative voice keeps directing our eyes to the beauty of this stark landscape, is taking a walk when she comes upon the half-frozen body of a woman in a pink parka, strangled and stabbed and left beneath an apple tree to spend the past winter under a blanket of snow. Olshan handles some genre conventions clumsily. Although the victim is the sixth woman in two years found murdered in the same fashion, the police investigation is undermanned and sloppily managed. It's also implausible that both the lead detective and the consulting forensic psychiatrist, who just happens to live up the road from Catherine, would use her as a sounding board. But the shaky mechanics don't matter so much once Olshan gets down to the real business of observing the destructive impact the killings have on this isolated region. This is the kind of rural community where the transplanted urban professionals living on Cloudland Road normally get along just fine with Yankee farmers like Hiram Osmond, a secondgeneration knacker who butchers dead farm animals, renders their carcasses and sells the good parts to people who like to decorate with skulls. Now neighbor no longer looks neighbor in the eye. The characters are complicated, and none more so than Catherine, who's struggling to recover from the painful breakup of an affair with a former student that cost her a good teaching job and caused a rift with her daughter. Although Olshan is merciful to all the cruel lovers, faithless spouses and angry children who live in this lonely place, the bracing clarity of his prose doesn't allow for false sentiment. (He describes one savagely mutilated murder victim as lying "as still as a deepforest kill.") When speaking of matters like romantic obsession and violence in close relationships, a voice like that really cuts through the air of a cold climate. James Runcie, son of a former archbishop of Canterbury, has written the coziest of cozy murder mysteries. SIDNEY CHAMBERS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH (Bloomsbury, paper, $16) is a collection of stories set in a quaint English village during the 1950s and featuring a young Anglican vicar who finds spiritual inspiration in criminal investigation. Addressing certain suspicions about the suicide of a local solicitor, Canon Sidney Chambers, the new vicar of the church of St. Andrew and St. Mary in Grantchester, is reminded that "how we love determines how we live." And investigating the theft of a valuable ring during an elegant London dinner party leads him to wonder how much a person can change over the course of a lifetime. No matter how much fun he derives from his sleuthing, Sidney tells himself that solving a tough case can teach him a moral lesson: "how to live an honorable life and protect the greater good." Taken individually, each of these clerical whodunits poses a clever puzzle for armchair detectives. Viewed as a collective study of British life as it was lived when Elizabeth II first ascended the throne, these stories present a consistently charming and occasionally cutting commentary on "a postwar landscape full of industry, promise and concrete." Psychological suspense is the genre of choice for glorifying the bond between mother and child: mother rushes into burning building, sacrifices life to save child, earns place in paradise. More than a flip paradigm, that's the actual plot of AFTERWARDS (Crown, $25), a gripping novel by Rosamund Lupton about a mother's nightmare. Grace Covey is among the proud parents on the field for sports day at the Sidley House Preparatory School when a fire breaks out inside the building. Cut to the hospital, where Grace is in a coma with brain injuries and her "appallingly hurt" 17-year-old daughter, Jenny, is in the burn unit. To add to her woes, Grace's 8-year-old son, Adam, is suspected of having set the fire. The eerie thing is, both Grace and Jenny have slipped out of their damaged bodies and become ghostly detectives, which takes considerable pluck and ingenuity. The second-person narrative voice assigned to Grace has its limitations, mainly because it's addressed to her wooden and inconsequential husband. "Be kinder to your wife," she's compelled to admonish him. "Out-of-body experiences do happen." Readers who might have drifted away from Katherine Hall Page's pleasing mysteries starring Faith Fairchild, the congenitally curious wife of a New England minister and the proprietor of a catering company wittily named "Have Faith," should accept the homecoming invitation extended in THE BODY IN THE BOUDOIR (Morrow/HarperCollins, $23.99). Although it's the 20th book in the series, the story is set in 1990, when Faith is still single, living in Manhattan and about to be swept off her feet by a young cleric she meets while catering a wedding at the Riverside Church. After their storybook courtship, Faith is making wedding plans when someone at her bridal shower tries to poison her. To be honest, the attempts on Faith's life are pallid compared with the retro fun of perusing a vintage wedding menu, shopping at Bergdorf 's bridal salon and having tea at the Palm Court in the Plaza Hotel. Shallow pleasures, perhaps. But that's just the way it is. After a string of murders in a remote valley, neighbor no longer looks neighbor in the eye.

Library Journal Review

Like Lupton's acclaimed debut, Sister, her sophomore effort is a wonderful mix of smart thriller with tear-provoking literature; a fine blend of Jodi Picoult and P.D. James. The novel opens with narrator Grace racing into a burning private school to rescue her trapped daughter, Jenny. Afterward, mother and daughter, both hospitalized and comatose, witness through an out-of-body experience their friends, family, and police as they attempt to solve the mystery of who set the fire and why. Was someone after Jenny? How well did Grace truly know her own best friend's family? Why was there the cover-up of a teacher's firing? With a lot of red herrings and wrong turns, Grace and Jenny try to figure it out, all the while cementing their own relationship. VERDICT Although the unusual narrative technique may be off-putting at first to some readers, those who enjoyed Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones or S.J. Watson's Before I Go to Sleep will find it a very effective device. Lupton has written a riveting story that will resonate with readers long after they have turned the last page. [See Prepub Alert, 10/23/11.]-Marianne Fitzgerald, Anne Arundel Cty. Sch., Annapolis, MD (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.