Saturday 17 June 2017


For some strange reason, unknown even to me, I didn't realise that this novel was the sequel to the highly acclaimed me before you, and I wondered whether I would find the central subject matter too distressing (euthanasia) but I needn't have worried: after you is a delightful novel, and a real page turner.

Louisa Clark is coming to turns with life after the assisted suicide of the man she was caring for and whom she fell in love with. Will Trayner had been the best in everything he did so when he was paralysed after a road accident he couldn't accept life as a quadraplegic and despite Louisa's best efforts, he still decided to end his life in Switzerland with Dignitas.

It's this knowledge that ultimately she couldn't save him despite all their happy times together that haunts Louisa for most of the novel. She also has to cope with her injuries after she accidently falls from the roof of her building having drunk far too much.

She has a pretty horrible job in an airport bar with an overdemanding boss and an absolutely ridiculous Irish-themed costume, and has a lonely existence, choosing to live away from her family and the snide comments of people in her own town. For a while, her only friends are an odd assortment of people who have also suffered loss as they all attend a bereavement group and for a long time she doesn't feel able to reveal her own situation.

But things change and two people enter her life who have a profound influence on her. The first is Sam, the paramedic who attened to her after her accident. He's the uncle of one of the bereavement group and a pretty gorgeous hunk of a man. And the second is the bombshell of a teenager who turns up at Louisa's flat claiming to be the daughter Will never knew he had.

Lily is a fantastic character, full of high-antics and insecurities. She has run away from her school and her home and it becomes obvious very quickly that her mother is unable to cope with either her daughter or her twin sons, the product of a failing marriage.

Lily is, indeed, Will's daughter and Louisa can't help but wonder whether Will would have ended his life if he'd know that he had a daughter. She also feels some kind of responsibilty for Lily but finds it difficult to deal with Lily's erractic behaviour, often fueled by drink and drugs. And whilst she's clearly smitten by Sam, she's frightened to get too involved just in case she loses him too.

And then we have the behaviour of parents. Will's parents have now split up and neither make a good impression on Lily when they first meet her, so hung up are they on the loss of Will. Louisa's parents are also experiencing difficulties, particularly as Louisa's mother has discovered feminism and is refusing to shave her legs or cook Sunday lunch.

All this is done with a very light touch so even Will's assisted suicide is handled with sensitivity. I was very impressed with Moyes' writing style: sentences just ping off the page and descriptions are woven effortlessly into the story. And it was often surprisingly funny, too.

But her triumph is in her characters. I warmed to Louisa straight away and wanted to know how she was going to deal with all these problems so I find myself picking up the novel to read more whenever I could. And all her other characters are well-defined too so, to me, they became real people whom I cared about.

No surprise then for me to say that I thoroughly recommend this novel. It's a very good read and I shall certainly read more of Moyes' novels, including the prequel me before you.