Title: After You Left
Author: Carol Mason
Publisher: Lake Union
Date of Publication: 1st April 2017
Date of Review: 27th February 2018
Abandoned on her honeymoon, with only a cryptic note saying ‘I can’t go on’, a distraught Alice is left trying to find out what happened and why her new husband, Justin, deserted her. When Alice meets Evelyn, through a seemingly chance encounter, at the art gallery where she works, similarities between the lives of the two women intertwine to tell a heart-breaking story of star-crossed lovers.
This author’s books just seem to get better with each one; After You Left is Carol Mason’s best novel yet. This beautifully written narrative is structured around a past and present timeline, which tells the story of two different women, Alice and Evelyn. Alice is the protagonist and her story is written in first person. Evelyn’s story is in third person.
At first the reader is led to believe this is a chance encounter but as the story progresses, clever twists and turns gradually bring the lives of the two women together as the pain of their past histories is drip-fed into the narrative.
The story is full of intrigue and it was hard to put this book down. ‘I can hear the tremor in my voice: the insecurity, the uncertainty; the dread of him coming on the line, the dread of him not. The exact same feeing I would get every time I tried to ask my mother questions about my past.’
As well as the two likeable main characters, the story is full of well-rounded and believable supporting characters, where fate has thrown them formidable blows. At first, the reader is gunning for the protagonist’s husband, who has dumped her on their honeymoon, but this is overturned when his own poignant story is delivered.
The novel explores the themes of everlasting love and friendship and leaves the reader with a sense of making the most of what is important in life. I thoroughly recommend this book and give it a well-deserved five stars.