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Thursday, 15 June 2017

After the Fall by Julie Cohen

From the author who brought you Dear Thing, Julie Cohen, comes After the Fall--a poignant, beautifully heartbreaking novel about what it means to be family, the ties that bind us, and the secrets that threaten to tear us apart.

When an unfortunate accident forces Honor back into the lives of her widowed daughter-in-law, Jo, and her only granddaughter, Lydia, she cannot wait to be well enough to get back to her own home. However, the longer she stays with Jo and Lydia, the more they start to feel like a real family. But each of the three women is keeping secrets from the others that threaten to destroy the lives they've come to know.

Honor's secret threatens to rob her of the independence she's guarded ferociously for eighty years.

Jo's secret could destroy the "normal" family life she's fought so hard to build and maintain.

Lydia's secret could bring her love--or the loss of everything that matters most to her.

One summer's day, grandmother, mother and daughter's secrets will be forced out in the open in a single dramatic moment that leaves them all asking: is there such a thing as second chances?

Title: After the Fall
Author: Julie Cohen
Published By: St Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: 2nd May 2017
Links: UK: Amazon   US: Amazon

Our Review

This is my first book by Julie Cohen and I have to say its one of the most beautiful and thought provoking books I've ever read. Having just finished it I can still feel tingles down my spine.

The book begins by an elderly lady, Doctor Honor Levenson falling down the stairs and breaking her hip, we find out that she lives alone and is rushed off to hospital.

The story then switches to a single mum called Jo who has a teenage daughter called Lydia from her first marriage and two younger children from her second marriage, she is trying her best to raise her children and trying not to hold a grudge against the au pair her second husband ran off with.

Then we switch to Lydia's point of view, she is about to do her GCSE's and is suffering from the usual teenage angst but also whilst trying to deal with her sexuality. She also still carries grief from her father's death.

Then we discover that the link between the three women is that Honor is Jo's first husband's mother and Lydia's grandmother. Jo is surprised to find that Honor put her down as next of kin as the two women had never really got on.

Jo is a lovely character who always thinks of other people but Honor doesn't appreciate this, even though Jo invites her to live with them until she recovers. When Honor realises she can't afford a private nurse she reluctantly takes up Jo's offer.

Lydia is my favourite character, at first she seems really popular, cool and level headed but then just one embarrassing slip causes her world to be turned upside down. Having a teenage daughter myself I know how realistic the scenario is and how fragile our teenagers are. I thought that the subject of mental health was handled very sensitively and responsibly.

The story unfolds by switching to each of the three women's points of view and I found the characters were so well written that I was able to immediately feel the pain and joy that each of them went through even though they were three different generations.

The story really explores the feelings of guilt that one has both by being a mother and a daughter and always wondering if you are doing the right thing.

The relationship between all three women grows as they begin to understand and appreciate their differences and maybe come to realise that in some ways they are not so different after all. One of the observations I think the book highlights is that how we are all pulled in different directions by the various relationships we have with people, be it friends, daughters, mothers, lovers.

A beautifully written heart wrenching story with wonderfully complex characters that gradually learn to fit together.

Thank you to Transworld for the ARC which I have reviewed voluntarily.

Book Angel x

About the Author

Julie Cohen grew up in the western mountains of Maine. Her house was just up the hill from the library and she spent many hours walking back and forth, her nose in a book. She studied English Literature at Brown University and Cambridge University and is a popular speaker and teacher of creative writing, including classes for The Guardian and Literature Wales. Her books have been translated into fifteen languages and have sold nearly a million copies; DEAR THING was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. Julie lives in Berkshire with her husband, son and a terrier of dubious origin.

You can find Julie on Twitter: @julie_cohen or you can visit her website:

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