Posts Tagged ‘arson’

Grace Covey appears asleep to family and friends at her hospital bed. To the doctors, Grace is in a coma after the traumatic injuries she suffered when she ran into a burning school to find her teenage daughter. To Grace herself, she apparently is having an out-of-body experience, aware of what’s going on around her but unable to communicate except with comatose daughter Jenny, who also is mysteriously out-of-body.

Don’t believe me? Fine. But in her compelling new novel Afterwards, Rosamund Lupton makes it easy to believe in Grace’s narration of events past and present.  First, the fire at the private school. She was outside for her 8-year-old son Adam’s sports day when the alarm sounded. But as soon as she realized Jenny was trapped on the third floor, Grace ran into the building.

“And as I dragged her, step by step, down the stairs, trying to get away from burning heat and raging flame and smoke, I thought of love. I held on to it. It was cool and clear and quiet.”

Love, of course, is at the heart of Lupton’s high-wire act of a novel: Grace’s love for her children and her husband, as well as her prickly sister-in-law Sarah, a cop investigating the fire; her own mother, who comforts young Adam; and her best friend Maisie, whose daughter is also in the hospital.

The book has as many or more narrative twists as Lupton’s first novel Sister, itself a roller-coaster of psychological suspense. Just when Grace thinks she has figured out who set the fire and why, another suspect and motive appears in an equally credible scenario. Increasing the tension is Jenny’s increasingly worsening condition. And will Grace ever wake up?

Open Book: I raced through a digital galley of Rosamund Lupton’s Afterwards (Crown Publishing via NetGalley),  then went back two weeks later and read it again.

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