Sometimes the end is really the beginning….
Living in flats in the same building, Amelia and Lars are a couple starting out on life together with big dreams for their careers, marriage, a home and family. They are in love and excited by all that life has in store for them. Lars is improving his English, Ami is making headway in her career and they spend evenings in cheap eateries with friends Liv and Thor drinking house wine and laughing away the time.
Real life can have a habit of getting in the way of life dreams. The children, Tess and Finn are born, business opportunities and commitments take Lars away more and more often, Ami is given the backing to set up her own advertising company. But at home the laughter is being replaced with raised angry voices, the love is being replaced by resentment and mistrust and the perfect family is actually a normal family with all the stresses and joys that come with it.
Young Tess has become preoccupied with death and Ami finds herself called in to school to discuss her daughter’s playtime funeral processions. The realisation that their lives have reached crisis point hits Ami when she returns home to find her son “buried” under a pile of cushions as her daughter conducts a funeral with the au pair nowhere in sight. On pulling out her young son from near suffocation, Ami knows that something must change but she is still blindsided by her husband’s actions.
Thanks to Kelly at Love Book Group Tours for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour!
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This is a contemporary novel that tackles the difficulties of modern-day life – with particular focus on the breakdown of a marriage. The chapters alternate between the current day (2017) and the start of Ami and Lars relationship in 2007, painting a picture of the development of a relationship running alongside its future breakdown. Eventually the historical chapters have caught up with present day, and as such the author forces her characters to accept what is happening to them.
Ami is a strong central character, even when she is at her lowest ebb. Her emotions are always just beneath her surface veneer and at times are so palpable. I think that the author writes with sensitivity and clarity when showing us Ami’s hurt – hurt caused by those closest to her which can feel like betrayal – her husband, her parents, her boss. Yet her own self-belief and love for her children keeps her swimming against the currents threatening to overwhelm her.
The cast of characters is colourful and very human. I love Ami’s best friend Liv and the humour that she brings to every situation. She is responsible for a potential big new client for Ami’s struggling agency, although her intent during a drunken conversation was to actually set her pal up on a blind date! This introduces Ben – another interesting character with his own baggage, a broken marriage and children in a foreign country. Young Tess and Finn are delightful, and the author puts words into these little mouths that any parent will smile at. The grandparents also pay such an important role – I love Lars’ mother Ulrika and her “cold” house – and demonstrate that extended family, whether fully present or not, influence family life. As a mum I couldn’t help byt laugh at the descriptions of the school gate, the relationships between the mothers and I love the descriptions of the Smugums!! I definitely came into contact with them and saw the looks of disbelief and pity when I failed to wake up from a night shift to collect my kids from school!
There is a lot of sadness in witnessing this relationship breakdown and whilst I was routing for Ami and Lars, it became hard to see a way back from their difficulties. The author asks how often a marriage continues after the love has gone – not that initial heady, lustful love but the deep love that grows and develops over time for a partner. How may relationships are based on loving a partner for being the parent of your child, but no longer loving them for being themselves? I found myself feeling a whole range of emotions as I followed Ami on her journey – but will give no spoilers as to how things work out for her and Lars.
A very modern tale reflecting current life so well – the good times alongside the difficult and never shying away from the emotive, aspects of modern relationships. Funny, engaging and poignant, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, found it easy to read and definitely recommend it.
About the Author
Fiona was a journalist and copywriter before building a career as a sales and
marketing director in industry. Having always written, she completed the Curtis
Brown Creative Writing course before writing The Story After Us.
As a mother and stepmother to four teenagers while holding down a fairly full-on job,
she wanted to write grown-up commercial fiction about messy, modern love and
families – with all their heartbreak, humour and hope.
She grew up in Cornwall, hung out for a long time in London and then Hertfordshire,
and now she writes as often as possible from her study overlooking the sea at the
end of the Lizard Peninsula, back in Cornwall. She’s currently there, writing her
second novel for Aria.
Find Fiona here:
Website – www.fionaperrin.com