Tuesday, May 2, 2017

After the Fall by Julie Cohen - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

Amazon USA Amazon UK Goodreads
 
Review by Suze
 
Jo has never been close to her late husband's mother, Honor. When the hospital rings her after Honor fell down the stairs she's surprised Honor listed her as next of kin. Jo is a single mother of three children, Lydia is the daughter she had with her first husband and she had a boy and a girl with the second, a man she divorced after he betrayed her. Honor doesn't want to be involved in their lives much, but because she has a broken hip she can't look after herself and Jo generously takes her in. Why would the woman she's always loathed do such a kind thing for Honor?
 
Lydia, Jo and Honor are keeping secrets from each other. There's something Honor doesn't want anybody to know, because it might make her lose her independence. Jo's secret can ruin the careful balance she and her children have finally reached. Lydia is keeping something major from both her family and friends that could change her life forever if it would come out. They each struggle with their problems by themselves, but in time the secrets are starting to fester and a terrible explosion is near, will everything be ruined once the truth comes to the surface?
 
After the Fall is a beautiful story about three generations of strong women. Honor is proud, determined and headstrong. She's incredibly smart and doesn't want to depend on anybody. Needing the person she's always disliked is difficult for her, but while living with Jo and her children she slowly starts to appreciate her. Jo is cheerful, optimistic and brave. She never stops making the best of things and I admired her attitude. Lydia is sweet, but prickly and she's very bright. Lydia is sixteen years old and having a good relationship with her mother is tough. I loved her kindness and kept hoping she and Jo would find back their old closeness. The connections between Honor, Jo and Lydia are interesting and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out what would happen to them. Julie Cohen has written a story about three fascinating main characters with amazing personalities.
 
After the Fall isn't only a story about loneliness and grief, it's also about love, longing, hope and second chances. Julie Cohen perfectly understands feelings and she knows how to make her readers aware of everything her main characters are going through. She describes their thoughts, fears and love in a beautiful vivid way that greatly impressed me. The story is moving and compelling and I loved it from beginning to end. After the Fall is a brilliant novel about life and death and everything in between. I highly recommend this fantastic book.
 
Advice
 
If you love moving family stories about strong women with interesting personalities you should definitely read After the Fall.
 
 About Julie Cohen
 

Julie Cohen grew up in the western mountains of Maine. Her house was just up the hill from the library and she spent many hours walking back and forth, her nose in a book. She studied English Literature at Brown University and Cambridge University and is a popular speaker and teacher of creative writing, including classes for the Guardian and Literature Wales. Her books have been translated into fifteen languages and have sold nearly a million copies; DEAR THING was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. Julie lives in Berkshire, UK with her husband, son and a terrier of dubious origin.

You can find Julie on Twitter: @julie_cohen or you can visit her website: www.julie-cohen.com.

Interview

1) Can you tell us three random facts about yourself?
 
I was born in the US, but I’ve lived in the UK for over half my life. I have a postgraduate research degree in fairies. And both of my pinkie fingers are permanently bent at a forty-five degree angle.

2) Can you describe the main characters of After the Fall in 6 words each?

Honor: Eighty years old, intelligent, independent, fierce.
Jo: A mother who puts herself last.
Lydia: Sixteen, secretly in love with BFF.

3) What’s the most interesting thing about writing about secrets?
 
Because you know the secret but the reader doesn’t, it’s often lots of fun to keep the secrets back: to work out how to misdirect the reader, but in such a way that when they find out what’s going on, they realise it totally made sense all along. Honor’s secret is a bit like this in AFTER THE FALL—she has a problem that she doesn’t reveal for some time, but once you know, it provides the puzzle key to everything she’s done.

4) After the Fall is a story about family, what inspired you to write about this topic?
 
There’s this elderly woman who has a summer home on the lake in Maine where my family have always spent every summer, and one day I got talking to her. She said because her health was failing, she’d moved from Portland, Oregon to be closer to her daughter. My response was something like, “Oh, that’s lovely, you must be so glad to be closer to her,” and this fierce, clever woman fixed me with a steel gaze. “No,” she said. “I’ve left all my friends and my home behind. I used to be a person; now I’m an old woman.”

That challenged my assumptions, and it got me thinking about a similar character, and how she would fit into a family she’s always been independent from.

5) What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?
 
It was given to me by Karin Stoecker, who is a very wise and experienced publishing executive, and a fearsomely intelligent woman. I saw her at a party and we were chatting about how I was having trouble with the plot of my new novel, and she said, “Don’t write more. Writer deeper.” What she meant was, don’t just chuck more plot at a novel: look at your characters, try to go deeper inside their minds and their conflicts. Really draw out and examine their emotions. I think it’s true: the smallest things can contain worlds.

6) You’re originally from the USA and then moved to the UK, what has living in two different countries taught you?

I think mostly it’s taught me how to be an immigrant. As an American, I have an outsider’s perspective on the UK—and as someone who’s lived over half my life in England, I don’t really belong in the US anymore either. I think that has helped me in my writing. I take fewer things for granted, and try to look for differences in people, the ways that people don’t fit in and don’t belong. I love writing about people who seem unexceptional, but who have incredible stories.

7) You studied at two top universities, what was the best thing about studying literature?
 
Endless time just to read. Oh, it was heaven.

8) You write about strong women, what’s the inspiration behind that?
 
Every woman I know is strong in her own way. I have an enormous admiration for all women. We make the world work. But the women who inspire me most are my friends and family—the women who are writing beautiful novels; the women who are curing their patients; the women who are raising or have raised children; the women who are contributing to science; the women who are finding joy in every day.

9) Your stories always have moving subjects and you perfectly manage to capture the emotions of your main characters. How do you prepare to write about difficult topics?
 
I do quite a bit of research before and while writing—for example for AFTER THE FALL I researched homophobic bullying. Though I had seen plenty of it firsthand when I was a secondary school teacher, I wanted to know the stories of young men and women who had suffered this awful, pointless cruelty. Once you know the facts, everything else is just an imaginative leap: you think of your character, and what they would do and feel.

I’ll admit that I do get emotionally invested in my characters, and I cry quite a bit as I write. I especially cried when I was writing about Lydia, in this book. You have to make these fictional people suffer as real people do, and so you mine your own emotions. I’ve been in love and afraid to show it. I’ve been different and worried about how others will think of me. You use how you feel, and give these feelings to your characters.

10) What are your plans for the future?

My next book, TOGETHER, is out in the UK in July. It’s an epic love story, told backwards over five decades, with a devastating twist. My UK editions are published before my US ones, so I keep pretty busy promoting two novels at the same time! I’m also writing my next book, which is about two women connected by a horrific event in London.

UK version

Goodreads

The UK version of After the Fall has a different title, Falling, and an equally stunning cover.
 
Giveaway
 
One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a signed copy of After the Fall. Good luck!
 
 
The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

20 comments:

  1. What an interesting book! Losing one's independence is very difficult. Thanks for sharing your inspiration for the story.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The book review sounds intriguing. Thanks for sharing. Love the covers and interview too.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sounds very moving and an intriguing
    family story. I love reading about the interview and where Julie got her inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love reading about strong, interesting women and the interaction between them.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you for a wonderful review and all the info. This sounds like a book that i would read and review on a few sites such as goodreads and amazon so glad that it is print as i have a nerve disease and fingers are deformed which can't do ebooks etc,.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sounds like a fabulous read.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sounds like a great read. Thanks for the chance x

    ReplyDelete
  8. loving the interview, this book sounds awesome!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for the review and giveaway!

    ReplyDelete
  10. It sounds so good, thanks for sharing it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great Interview and this looks like a great book. Thanks for sharing it with us and for the chance to win.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Looks like an interesting read, thanks for the giveaway.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks for the giveaway.

    mia2009(at)comcast(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
  14. Both books are very interesting looking and yes, I am very intruiged. Can't wait to read them.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I would reall like to read this story about three fascinating main characters with amazing personalities.

    ReplyDelete
  16. this looks like an amazing story and would be nice to see if Honor and Jo ever set their differences aside

    ReplyDelete
  17. Great interview! Sounds like a great story.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Great interview. Looks like very interesting book...

    ReplyDelete
  19. Family bonds can be very difficult to write about (and to live with) without getting mawkish but Ms. Cohen sounds as she's done a wonderful job!

    ReplyDelete