I happened to read a random tweet a few weeks ago – the person said that Kylie Ladd’s novel, After the Fall, was the “…best book they had EVER read.” I replied – “Have you read Last Summer?” (the most recent book by Ladd, which I really enjoyed). They had read Last Summer but apparently it didn’t come close to After the Fall.
I always feel compelled to read a book that someone else claims is their ‘absolute favourite’. Personally, I can’t narrow down to one favourite – I love a handful of different books for different reasons but I picked up After the Fall with great anticipation.
The story is about two married couples: Kate and Cary, Cressida and Luke. Four people who meet, click and become firm friends. But then flirty, extroverted Kate and handsome, party-boy Luke steal a kiss. The kiss becomes an obsession. They fall in love, then fall into an affair. How will the affair end?
I have a policy to review a book without spoilers…. So I’m afraid my ‘review’ of this book will be fairly limited. It’s very difficult to comment on the characters and the plot without revealing the ending. That said, Ladd creates believable characters and as the story alternates between each character’s point-of-view (which gives the book a voyeuristic edge), the reader begins to know them, and what is motivating them.
“Kate is the sort of person who is always forgetting where they put their drink down at a party and wandering off to get another, so that by the end of the night they’ve left a trail of half-empty glasses in their wake, and don’t even notice the wastage. I wondered if she misplaced friends as easily.”
The characters could have come across as stereotypical but Ladd’s light touch steers them away from that. There is an honesty to each of them and a careful balance of truth and selfishness. Without this approach, it would have been all too obvious to push the reader’s sympathy toward Cary and Cressida. Yet, as we see things through Cary’s and Cressida’s eyes, you also learn that Cary is somewhat manipulative and Cressida quietly and selfishly ambitious. One line in particular grabbed me –
“Situations don’t arise; you create them.”
While the line seems to lend itself to the moment when someone ‘chooses’ to become unfaithful, it is as equally relevant to how one chooses to react to any given situation.
Whilst I enjoyed After the Fall, it was what was motivating each character that I struggled with, particularly when it came to Cary. I do maintain that until you’re in a situation such as this ‘double infidelity’, you can’t tell how you’d react. However in this case (and again, no spoilers), I wasn’t truly satisfied that the individuals would have done what they did.
“Half a decade later I was still very much in love, but I no longer sprinted up our garden path at the end of the day. That’s no failing: I defy you to show me anyone who does. Familiarity breeds content; love plateaus but is none the less for that. It has to, or no one would ever get any work done.”
Choosing a dish to go with After the Fall was easy – it had to be something with layers sandwiching layers! Come summer, I love making sorbet terrines and mixing up the flavour combinations. This one – coconut, raspberry and mango – comes from The Hip Hostess.
3/5 There is no question that this book is a page-turner. It’s a light, quick read and will provide good fodder for a lazy afternoon.