It’s eleven years since Jem Catterick and Ralph McLeary first got together. They thought it would be for ever, that they’d found their happy ending. As everyone agreed, they were the perfect couple.
Then two became four, a flat became a house. Romantic nights out became sleepless nights in. And they soon found that life wasn’t quite so simple any more. But through it all Jem and Ralph still loved each other, of course they did.
Now the unimaginable has happened. Two people who were so right together are starting to drift apart. And in the chaos of family life, Ralph feels more and more as if he’s standing on the sidelines, and Jem that she’s losing herself. Something has to change. As they try to find a way back to each other, back to what they once had, they both become momentarily distracted – but maybe it’s not too late to recapture happily ever after …
I bought this over two years ago, at an Evening with Lisa Jewell event. I met Lisa herself, chatted to her (about writing and editing, she likes editing, I hoped her encouragement would have made me at least try editing a novel, it didn’t!), and she signed the book. The problem back then, was that I couldn’t read it.
I’d literally (like three weeks before) just gone through a break up. I was emotionally fragile. I knew the premise of the book was Jem and Ralph having problems in their relationship. I suspected they were going to split up. But what after? How would that relate to my life? Obviously it wouldn’t, whatever happened in a book written by someone else, wasn’t going to have any impact on my relationship. BUT, I felt that if they broke up and stayed apart I’d be even sadder than I was, and lose hope in love, which I didn’t want to do. If they stayed together, or broke up then got back together, it would have given me hope that my ex and I would get back together.
I mean yeah, of course.
So I put ATP to a back shelf, to read when I was stronger. Four months later my ex and I got back together, but the book by this point was at the back of my TBR pile, I’d get round to it. Then I wanted to read it towards the end of last year, but I’d just written 55,000 words of a novel about a relationship falling apart, I needed to finish it in my words, not let Lisa’s writing or ideas influence me (I’m possibly a very influencable person – if that’s a word).
Then I signed up for the TBR Pile Challenge and just knew that ATP had to be on it. Wednesday morning I picked it up.
Now, since Wednesday (when I started feeling better after the nasty virus that knocked me down and kept me away from work), I had a massive to do list. Obviously then, I’d pick up a novel by one of my favourite authors. Like duh!
I couldn’t put it down. literally couldn’t put it down. I went back to work on Thursday so wanted an early night on Wednesday, but I couldn’t put it down. I’ve a ton of house cleaning to do, but I couldn’t out the novel down. I stayed up till 1.30am last night reading it, but couldn’t keep my eyes open so had to put it down. This morning I finished it, instead of cleaning the house, instead of writing up some meeting minutes, instead of blogging or writing.
It was brilliant. The characters were so realistic, sometimes I wanted to shout at them, cause they felt so real. I don’t think I need to say that the story kept me gripped from the off (if I do, re read the previous paragraph!). AND, I cried my eyes out at the end. It’s been a while since a book had that effect on me, and I loved it.
I love books that actually make me think, I want to say that change me, but that’s a bit strong, books that make me look at my life in a different way. This totally has done this. We want to have kids in the next few years, and going through the actual being a parent thing with Jem and Ralph has made me want to appreciate not having kids before we do, appreciate each other when us is just the two of us, not three or four or whatever.
After the Party is the follow up to Ralph’s Party, Jewell’s first novel 10 years previously. I love the idea of a follow up to what happened in the previous, because you always get to the end of a novel, and it’s happy ever after. Only it’s not. It’s happy right then. Exploring 10 years later is just brilliant.
Meeting Lisa was an awesome experience, here’s a picture from that night.