At forty-five years old, Lilly’s life as a divorcee in Manhattan is far from what she expected. Haunted and unfulfilled by the memory of her ex-husband, a torrid artist with more passion for drinking than painting, Lilly lives day to day, contented by her tepid relationship with a stoic businessman. When her mother Ida calls her home with the confession of a long-kept secret Lilly finds her world turned upside down, and soon she’s traveling to Australia to meet the father she never knew. A scoundrel and legendary adventurer, Cameron is a bold man with a brash exterior, but underneath his spirit is grizzled by a secret. As Lilly sets out across the Australian outback with Cameron, his alluring son Grant, and Grant’s twenty-something daughter Jen, she finds herself unraveling the twisted web of secrets and deceptions that surround her newfound family, and stepping into a web of her own.
Afterthought, Janet Clare’s debut novel, is a skillful examination of the power of secrets and our flawed belief that we can control them. Reading the novel, it’s almost difficult to remember that it is, in fact, a debut; so assured is Clare in her prose. Her ability with words is deeply evident in the creativity of the novel’s construction, and she approaches Lilly’s narrative with a nakedness that captures the protagonist’s personality – and her somewhat bleak view of love and life – very well. Lilly’s attitude and her actions – including an attraction, more or less incestuous, to her half-brother Grant – will work either for or against the reader, depending upon the audience, as all books do. For me, Afterthought represented a creative triumph, a journey through life’s non-beauties set against the backdrop of an otherwise enchanting place, and I appreciated the depth and clarity of Clare’s story. The themes the novel explores are all bold, and they require equal boldness in order to capture them: Clare demonstrates this exceptionally well.
While it could likely be expected that a story of a father and daughter uniting for the first time would be a heartfelt journey to familial love rediscovered, Afterthought puts its heart into a far less idyllic place, but a place that’s just as real. In its efforts, the novel achieves a uniquely observant contemplation of life’s challenges and the way our choices can affect its fragility. Beautifully rendered and engagingly paced, Afterthought is a novel I’ll be thinking about for a long time to come.
Author: Janet Clare
Genre: drama, romance
Publisher: Janet Clare
Release date: September 2, 2010
Source: Janet Clare (c/o)
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