I stayed up all night reading Maggie O’Farrell’s After You’d Gone, and I can’t really articulate why. Alice Raikes goes to visit her family in Scotland, sees something shocking in the train station and gets right back on the train heading to London. At first I was desperate to figure out what Alice had seen in the train station, but that plot twist becomes relatively apparent about 100 pages into the book.
The book jumps perspectives, alternating between Alice, her mother and her grandmother. It also jumps time periods, with each character narrating from childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Essentially slightly unique take on a tragic family history novel, each woman is compelling in her own right. At times, I found the book difficult to read because tragedy after tragedy piles upon Alice, and its heartbreaking. Alice slowly falls apart, and while her mother, her husband, her friends all believe they know why, only Alice really knows why she’s essentially dying inside.