What’s it all about?:
‘He crashed on to the pillow next to me, heavy as a felled oak. I slapped His face and told Him to wake up. Our daughter, B, appeared in the doorway, woken up by the screaming – I must have been screaming but I don’t remember – and she was crying and peering in. I told her the ultimate adult lie; that everything was all right.’
Sudden death is rude. It just wanders in and takes your husband without any warning; it doesn’t even have the decency to knock. At the impossibly young age of 37, as they were making love one night, Lucie Brownlee’s beloved husband Mark dropped dead.
As Lucie tried to make sense of her new life – the one she never thought she would be living – she turned to writing to express her grief. Life After You is the stunning, irreverent and heartbreakingly honest result.
What did WE think?:
CHRISSI: This title is published under Me After You and Life After You. What do you make of the titles?
BETH: Good question! I was slightly confused when I first purchased this novel for my Kindle as it appeared on there as a completely different title – my copy has the original title Me After You. I then found out that the title was changed to Life After You, perhaps as the original title looks too much like the (excellent and highly recommended) fiction novel Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Personally, I believe it’s a good change and Life After You fits slightly better, especially as this is in fact a non-fiction read and shouldn’t really be compared to women’s fiction. I’m not saying anything against the genre as I do love a decent contemporary read angled at women but I think the story of this author’s grief after losing her husband shouldn’t be given the chance to be mixed up with any fictionalised account.
BETH: Were you immediately captivated by Life After You or did it take you a while to settle into the story?
CHRISSI: I was absolutely captivated by this memoir. I thought it was an incredibly easy to read book, but at the same time it was hard to read because it was absolutely heart-breaking to read about Lucie’s loss. I think the reason why it was so captivating was the fact that it was such a raw read. It was brutally honest, and that’s what many people wish for in a memoir.
CHRISSI: This memoir has been described as a ‘wrenchingly funny read’. Do you agree with this?
BETH: My first instinct on reading this question was to say “No,” as I got quite emotionally involved with the story and just felt so terribly sorry for what the author had/is continuing to go through. Looking back on it now though there was a lot of humour in this novel, perhaps it made it easier for the author to write about? I particularly enjoyed when the author tells us about Mark’s last words as they are having sex: “You’ve still got your socks on,” which was a strange but funny thing for her to remember and her naughty trysts with the plumber were also very amusing and felt heart-wrenchingly real.
BETH: Lucie refers to Mark in this novel with capital H’s i.e. Him/He. What do you think the purpose of this was and did you enjoy it?
CHRISSI: I personally think that Lucie capitalised Him and He because Mark was as important to her as God is to others. I know some other readers had some problems with it, but I thought it was suitable and fit the tale that Lucie had to tell.
CHRISSI: Did the fact that this is a true story have any more of an impact on you?
BETH: Definitely. I do love a non-fiction book at times, especially if one can tug at your emotions like this one did for me. It was a mixture of everything to be honest that had the impact. Firstly, Mark died so young and in the most horrendous of circumstances which I don’t think I could have coped with as well if it had been me! Secondly, they obviously had a beautiful, loving relationship which must make it all the worse when it is taken away from you. Finally, Lucie and Mark have a young daughter, B, who witnesses her mother trying to perform CPR on her husband and I cannot imagine how terrible that must have been for both Lucie and her daughter.
BETH: Lucie is very honest in this novel, being completely open about her excessive drinking. Did you understand her reasons for doing this?
CHRISSI: I do totally understand why Lucie was completely honest and open about her drinking. I believe that Lucie really wanted to portray what her grief was like and wanted to stay true to herself. I think that she wanted to be open and honest, so that other people that were going through the same thing, could read it and know that they weren’t alone. I believe that that’s a really brave thing to do!
CHRISSI: Lucie is a successful blogger. Does this book make you want to read her blog?
BETH: Oh yes! I’m always on the look out for new bloggers to follow and as I really enjoyed the style of writing in this novel I’m quite curious to see what else Lucie has written about.
BETH: Would you read another book by this author, non-fiction or otherwise?
CHRISSI: I would. I really enjoyed her writing style.
Would we recommend it?:
BETH’s star rating (out of 5):
CHRISSI’s star rating (out of 5):