Title: After the Party
Author: Lisa Jewell
Review: Having been born just inside the M25 and spent a lot of my under 21 years living in England in general, I really enjoy books about British 30 somethings. I end up reading a lot of chick-lit because of it, but quite a lot of it is quite good. So I had high hopes when the publisher asked me to review After the Party, that I immediately went out and read “book one” in the series Ralph’s Party. Ralph’s Party details the lives of the inhabitants of 31 Almanac Road as their lives intertwine. Some relationships founder and break apart and ultimately true love is found and the Jem and Ralph set off on their cosmic romance. (quick review 3.5 out of 5 – mainly because as a first book the writing needed a little tightening, a problem Jewell has solved over her many books)
So here we are eleven years later and how has the fairy tale love for the ages gotten on? Unfortunately it has stagnated a bit and gone off the rails. This is what I love about this book, the deeper look into the romance. At the end of Ralph’s Party you feel a great love has been achieved and close it the book very satisfied. Typically you never take the time to ponder just how such a love will endure. I guess I always just assume that it will go on without a hitch. But imagine if Kate and Leo survived the Titanic and you meet up with them 11 years later – “How bout the bloody King of the World take out the trash!” That is what After the Party explores, and for the most part this is virgin territory in a contemporary romance.
The high Jem and Ralph have been riding since they got together has produced a couple of kids and careers, but it has not managed to take them to the next step in their relationship. It has not got them married. Because they have come to face the wall all successfully married people have to climb, they must stop being two separate people who live together and become one; a couple comprised of two halves that are all in. They must become fully committed to each other and leave the aspects of single life behind (both good AND bad). When you can put the needs of the other (your spouse in this case, or more specifically the relationship, the family) above your own you can defeat the world. But it is very important that both partners fully commit to form a bond that will last.
If you are not willing to do this it becomes very hard to withstand the vicissitudes of life as time goes by. Otherwise you are just existing on goodwill, magic, and duct tape and that only holds for so long. Ask any couple who have been married a few years, especially ones who have added kids to the mix if this is true. Because magic can only hold out against a few real fights and if you are in a relationship with any substance you are going to have some fights. The national divorce rate attests to this fact.
Jem and Ralph have hit this wall and their relationship is beginning to slowly crumble from within. After the Party takes an in-depth look at a couple in crisis, makes you really care for them, and navigates that delicate path to a resolution. Well worth the read to anybody who is or hopes to be in a relationship. Plus for all you Ralph’s Party fans, all the major characters are revisited and updated, so no loose ends to frustrate you either. Finally a personal sign of what I thought of the writing itself, Lisa Jewell will be put into the rotation and I will devour her backlist over the next few months.
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 445 pages
Quick Review: 4 Stars out of 5.
Why I Read it: The publisher was looking for reviewers and this looked interesting.
Where I Obtained the Book: Sent by the publisher.Synopsis: It’s eleven years since Jem Catterick and Ralph McLeary first got together. They thought it would be forever, that they’d found their happy ending. As everyone agreed, they were the perfect couple.
Then two became four, a flat became a house. Romantic nights out became sleepless nights in. And they soon found that life wasn’t quite so simple any more. But through it all Jem and Ralph still loved each other, of course they did.
Now the unimaginable has happened. Two people who were so right together are starting to drift apart. And in the chaos of family life, Ralph feels more and more as if he’s standing on the sidelines, and Jem that she’s losing herself. Something has to change. As they try to find a way back to each other, back to what they once had, they both become momentarily distracted - but maybe it’s not too late to recapture happily ever after …
Author Biography: Lisa Jewell (born 19th July 1968, Middlesex, London) is a popular British author of chick lit fiction. Her books include Ralph's Party, Thirtynothing and most recently 31 Dream Street. She lives in Swiss Cottage, London with her husband Jascha and daughters Amelie Mae (born 2003) and Evie Scarlett (born 2007).