After the Party by Lisa Jewell
|After the Party by Lisa Jewell|
|Genre: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Katie Pullen|
|Summary: After eleven years together Ralph and Jem realise that their relationship has reached rock bottom and something has to change or it may be over. As they drift further apart through crises and attractions elsewhere, will they find a way to make their life together work? A brilliant follow up to Ralph's Party and definitely Lisa Jewell at her best.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 448||Date: April 2010|
|External links: Author's website|
It's been eleven years since Ralph and Jem finally became an item at the end of Lisa Jewell's first novel Ralph's Party. After buying a house in South London and having two children their once exciting, romantic and crazy relationship has gradually become consumed by responsibility and domesticity. Jem has become bogged down with motherhood and running a home and just wishes Ralph would help out a bit as she struggles to start working again. Ralph, unsure of his role in the family, has gradually drifted away both physically and emotionally from Jem and his children, preferring to spend as much time as possible painting in his studio.
As the predictability of ordinary life fills their days, and they have little time for each other and the love they once shared, Jem and Ralph realise that something has to change for their relationship to stand a chance. As they try and muster the strength to work on finding their way back to each other, both find attractions elsewhere spelling possible disaster. Through crises, self discovery and miscommunication Jem and Ralph finally discover who they are and what they want but will this include each other?
Having been a Lisa Jewell fan for over ten years I was really excited to receive this sequel to her first novel Ralph's Party. At first I was a little disappointed to read that Ralph and Jem, who seemed like the perfect couple, were heading towards break up, but at the same time I wasn't surprised to read that life had presented them with real challenges that I'm sure most readers can identify with.
Ralph and Jem are ordinary and realistic characters, and I felt great sympathy for them as they try and juggle children, home and work, resulting in them forgetting how to relate to each other as a couple. This is where Lisa Jewell really scores with her writing as she takes ordinary people and everyday situations and injects into them a great drama that will keep her readers interested.
Her writing is light, warm, absorbing and full of humour, particularly through her use of metaphors. These are littered throughout and are an amusing way of providing insight into her characters, their thoughts and feelings, without spelling them out to the reader.
Like a lot of contemporary women's fiction there is a lot of dialogue in this novel, but Lisa Jewell has obviously spent a lot of time getting to know her characters as every word feels authentic and realistic.
The narrative structure is also impressive as we have both Jem and Ralph's perspectives on their situation. This makes it easier to see what each are going through as they struggle with life, and how both have become experts in not communicating their thoughts, feelings and insecurities to one another. There were many occasions when I wanted to bang their heads together and wished they would just open up to each other, but at the same time I could understand why it was easier not to do so.
There are also some serious themes dealt with throughout which makes it all a bit depressing and sad at times but nevertheless real, which for me makes Lisa Jewell stand out from some of her contemporaries in the world of women's fiction.
Although this is a sequel, don't be put off if you haven't read Ralph's Party, as After the Party can easily be read on its own. I confess I'd forgotten a lot of what happened in Ralph's Party, but there was no need to worry as Lisa Jewell provides some reminders throughout. So if you've enjoyed Lisa Jewell before, or even if you haven't, you won't be disappointed with this engaging, touching and ultimately jump for joy read.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
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