Even though I hadn’t read the prequel to After You, I had thoroughly enjoyed it in its film version, which meant that when my mum offered this book to me when she had finished, I snapped it up. And as I had expected, the book kept me interested the entire way through.
I think it did help that, having seen the prequel on screen, I already had a good idea of the how Louisa Clark (the main character) and her family worked as characters, and the dynamic between them. This means that I didn’t have to spend any time getting to know the characters or their situations, allowing me to just ‘get on’ with enjoying the narrative.
I liked how Moyes continued straight onto the narrative of this separate story, spending very little time referencing back to what happened in the characters’ pasts. Admittedly, this would make it difficult for anyone who wasn’t familiar with the prequel to fully understand, but I do think that most people reading this would choose to do so because of the prequel.
Louisa Clark is the perfect protagonist: the girl who wants to move on, and is trying, but is evidently terrified. Hopeless at most things, yet confident in who she is as a person, and her intelligence shines through in her wit and humour. It was also great to see how she had developed as a person from when Will was alive, and how Lily’s character meant that, in a strange and complicated way, she got to continue her relationship with Will, to the point that they had not able to reach before his death. She, in a way, got to become the mother of his child- and it was interesting to see how she reacted to such situation.
In fact, it seemed that, instead of Lily acting as a painful reminder of Will that dragged Louisa back to the state of intense grieving just after his death, she actually helped her to move on from him. All the time that I could see Louisa changing and transforming, I felt almost proud of her- as if I knew her.
I think the fact that no one, unless those heartbreakingly unlucky enough to have experienced it, can begin to imagine how it must feel to lose the person you love through their own doing, means that readers sympathise even more with Louisa as a character. This was certainly the case for me. I don’t even want to imagine the reality of such a terrible situation, meaning I wanted, more than anything, for her to come out of it a stronger person- her full personality still intact.
The great thing about After You is that it’s just the right cocktail of sadness, hope and humour that makes you want to read it more. I was always ready to turn the next page, and move onto the next chapter- disappointed when I didn’t have enough time to do so. As if 400 pages of the narrative weren’t enough, I found myself wishing the story continued- not because I didn’t feel it had reached a good enough conclusion, but because I didn’t want to leave Louisa Clark as a character.
I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone- whether you have read the prequel, or just seen the film. Familiarise yourself with the prequel and get stuck in. It is truly worth it.