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Afterwards by Rachel Seiffert
The Afterwards of this book's title refers to its central characters' lives after suffering from their individual traumas. Alice and Joseph meet in a pub and begin a relationship. The central emptiness in her life was her abandonment by her father at birth and later rejection when she found him as an adult. Her beloved grandmother has died, and in many ways, she's looking to Joseph to fill her emotional void. Joseph, however, is suffering from post-traumatic stress from his stint in the army in Northern Ireland. When Alice asks him to help her grandfather, an ex-RAF pilot, redecorate his house, Joseph and her grandfather bond in ways the women can't with them. Alice can't understand why Joseph closes off his past to her, while Joseph's sister is content in leaving him alone with his past. Rachel Seiffert's novel of the different aspects of love and communication has received mostly positive reviews with the London Times saying, "This is a quiet novel, one in which characters spend as much time talking about tomorrow's job of work as about past mayhem, and in which we are given, not the grandeur and symmetry of literary imaginings, but the complicated substance of unadorned lives."