Sensitive, engaging, beautiful
What I thought:
On a perfect summers day, in the south of England, a school hosts its end of year sports day. While the school is awash with children, parents and siblings helping out, somone sets light to the art room and what results is an inferno that lands mother and daughter (Grace and 17 year old Jennifer) in hospital and seriously ill.
Afterwards is narrated by Grace who , in an out of body experience (along with daughter Jenny), is trying to make sense of just what happened and why. Grace does this by talking to her husband, Mike, whom cannot see or hear her but whom she reminisses about the past and confides her fears about the future, which I found this difficult to grasp at first as I kept having to remind myself who she was talking to.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this book is a literary thriller, but the prose and themes of love, faith and hope feel a step away from most crime fiction; however the mystery of what happened at the school is certainly the central theme. The language used is, in my opinion, at times beautiful and at times irritating (for bordering on gushy and being a little disney).
Despite the fact that the book sometimes felt a bit drawn out, I was sufficiently engaged enough to want to know who the arsonist was and why they had set fire to the school. There were twists, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say red herrings as certain characters were slightly too obvious to be real contenders.
Verdict: A lovely and engaging read and refreshing in style. Recommended.
(Source: This book is from my own shelves)