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[From the dust jacket:] A young woman named Alice Raikes boards a train to Scotland to visit her family. But when she arrives, she witnesses something so shocking that she insists on returning to London that very minute. Only a few hours later, Alice is lying in a coma after an accident that might or might not have been a suicide attempt. With Alice's life hanging in the balance, her family gathers at her bedside. As they wait, argue, and remember, long buried tensions rise to the surface. The more they talk, the more it seems, they conceal from each other. Alice, meanwhile, sliding between different levels of consciousness, recalls her past and the end of a tragic love affair. Skipping around in time, knitting together the different points of view with astonishing dexterity and beautiful prose, Maggie O'farrell has created a story of love and family relationships that is reminiscent of the very best of Edna O'Brien and Mary Gordon. With one of the most heart-stopping openings in modern fiction, After You'd Gone is a work of extraordinary psychological depth and impressive maturity.
Best Contemporary Women's Fiction: Six Novels includes works by some of the finest novelists of today. Almost by Elizabeth Benedict chronicles the attempt of writer Sophy Chase to come to terms with the death of her almost ex-husband -- who may have committed suicide on the New England resort island where she left him just months before.Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum follows Trudy, a professor of German history, as she investigates her mother's past and the truth surrounding her life in Germany during WWII. Combining a passionate, doomed love story, a vivid evocation of life during the war, and a poignant mother/daughter drama, Those Who Save Us is a profound exploration of what we endure to survive and the legacy of shame. The Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss is a heartwarming, greatly satisfying story of a young woman with the rare talent of "gentling" wild horses and the unexpected and profound connections between people and animals. The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones takes readers inside the hidden world of elite cuisine in modern China through the story of an American food writer in Beijing. When recently widowed Maggie McElroy is called to China to settle a claim against her late husband's estate, she is blindsided by the discovery that he may have led a double life. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell is a gothic, intricate tale of family secrets, lost lives, and the freedom brought by truth that will haunt you long past its final page. The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett tells the story of a secretive magician's death that sets in motion his partner's journey of self-discovery.
Lexie Sinclair is plotting an extraordinary life for herself.Hedged in by her parents' genteel country life, she plans her escape to London. There, she takes up with Innes Kent, a magazine editor who wears duck-egg blue ties and introduces her to the thrilling, underground world of bohemian, post-war Soho. She learns to be a reporter, to know art and artists, to embrace her life fully and with a deep love at the center of it. She creates many lives--all of them unconventional. And when she finds herself pregnant, she doesn't hesitate to have the baby on her own.Later, in present-day London, a young painter named Elina dizzily navigates the first weeks of motherhood. She doesn't recognize herself: she finds herself walking outside with no shoes; she goes to the restaurant for lunch at nine in the morning; she can't recall the small matter of giving birth. But for her boyfriend, Ted, fatherhood is calling up lost memories, with images he cannot place.As Ted's memories become more disconcerting and more frequent, it seems that something might connect these two stories-- these two women-- something that becomes all the more heartbreaking and beautiful as they all hurtle toward its revelation.Here Maggie O'Farrell brings us a spellbinding novel of two women connected across fifty years by art, love, betrayals, secrets, and motherhood. Like her acclaimed The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, it is a "breathtaking, heart-breaking creation."*And it is a gorgeous inquiry into the ways we make and unmake our lives, who we know ourselves to be, and how even our most accidental legacies connect us.*The Washington Post Book World
Sophisticated, intelligent, impossible to put down, Maggie O'Farrell's beguiling novels--After You'd Gone, winner of a Betty Trask Award; The Distance Between Us, winner of a Somerset Maugham Award; The Hand That First Held Mine, winner of the Costa Novel Award; and her unforgettable bestseller The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox--blend richly textured psychological drama with page-turning suspense. Instructions for a Heatwave finds her at the top of her game, with a novel about a family crisis set during the legendary British heatwave of 1976. Gretta Riordan wakes on a stultifying July morning to find that her husband of forty years has gone to get the paper and vanished, cleaning out his bank account along the way. Gretta's three grown children converge on their parents' home for the first time in years: Michael Francis, a history teacher whose marriage is failing; Monica, with two stepdaughters who despise her and a blighted past that has driven away the younger sister she once adored; and Aoife, the youngest, now living in Manhattan, a smart, immensely resourceful young woman who has arranged her entire life to conceal a devastating secret. Maggie O'Farrell writes with exceptional grace and sensitivity about marriage, about the mysteries that inhere within families, and the fault lines over which we build our lives--the secrets we hide from the people who know and love us best. In a novel that stretches from the heart of London to New York City's Upper West Side to a remote village on the coast of Ireland, O'Farrell paints a bracing portrait of a family falling apart and coming together with hard-won, life-changing truths about who they really are.
In the middle of tending to the everyday business at her vintage-clothing shop and sidestepping her married boyfriend's attempts at commitment, Iris Lockhart receives a stunning phone call: Her great-aunt Esme, whom she never knew existed, is being released from Cauldstone Hospital--where she has been locked away for more than sixty-one years.Iris's grandmother Kitty always claimed to be an only child. But Esme's papers prove she is Kitty's sister, and Iris can see the shadow of her dead father in Esme's face. Esme has been labeled harmless--sane enough to coexist with the rest of the world. But she's still basically a stranger, a family member never mentioned by the family, and one who is sure to bring life-altering secrets with her when she leaves the ward. If Iris takes her in, what dangerous truths might she inherit?A gothic, intricate tale of family secrets, lost lives, and the freedom brought by truth, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox will haunt you long past its final page.
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