Cover image for After you'd gone
After you'd gone
O'Farrell, Maggie, 1972-
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, 2001.

Physical Description:
372 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Library
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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"I am more than happy to welcome a newcomer, Maggie O'Farrell, who, to quote Yeats, 'has learnt her trade.' After You'd Gone is beautifully written contemporary fiction." --Edna O'Brien, Sunday TimesA 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.

Author Notes

Maggie O'Farrell is the author of several novels including After You'd Gone, My Lover's Lover, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, Instructions for a Heatwave, and This Must Be the Place. She received a Somerset Maugham Award for The Distance Between Us and the 2010 Costa Novel Award for The Hand That First Held Mine.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Like a pointillist painting, this fine debut is, from one perspective, formlessÄshort vignettes, told from multiple points of view and in multiple voices, that are somewhat puzzling on their own and apparently have no connection to each other. Ultimately, however, these elements merge into a coherent and moving portrait of a young woman's journey toward a life-threatening crisis. In London, one cold day in late fall, Alice Raikes impulsively boards a train home to Scotland. Shortly after joining her two sisters in the Edinburgh train station, she sees something "odd and unexpected and sickening" in the station's restroom that causes her immediately to flee back to London. Later that evening, while walking to the grocery store, Alice broods over what she has seen, then abruptly steps into oncoming traffic. As she lies comatose in her hospital bed, a swirl of voices and images gradually reveals her pastÄher parents, especially her mother, Ann; her beloved grandmother, Elspeth; her two sisters, so unlike her, both physically and temperamentally; and John Friedman, whom she loved and lostÄand hints at her precarious future. The unnamed spectacle of the opening washroom scene resurfaces in Alice's semiconscious haze, and its eventual elucidation comes as less of a shock than a confirmation of all we have learned about her tumultuous existence. 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 affectionÄand the sources of her agonyÄwere worth enduring. Foreign rights sold in seven countries. (Mar. 19) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

It is hard to believe that such an assured work comes from a first novelist. Starting in London with a young woman stepping off a curb in front of an oncoming car, O'Farrell gradually lays bare the harrowing realization that prompted the suicide attempt. On one level, this is a love story; on another it is an intergenerational tale of three women (grandmother Elspeth, mother Ann, and Alice, the victim). But to describe it as such sounds platitudinous, which it is definitely not. With smooth prose, O'Farrell moves seamlessly among the victim's family and friends and back and forth in time in seemingly random fashion, slowly revealing her characters' pasts and stunningly bringing the story back to the present. Despite its premise, this is not a depressing book. 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.DFrancine Fialkoff, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.