About the Book:
She can choose to stay mired in yesterday’s regrets – or do what she can to create a brighter tomorrow for them all.
It’s the 1980s but feminism has passed Stella by and her sole focus is being the best wife and mother she can be. Her husband Daniel’s shock announcement that their marriage is over casts her adrift.
Stella has to rethink everything she believed about herself and their life. The future she imagined of growing old together is not to be and she has no idea what will replace it.
Meeting a stranger at the seashore where she goes to seek solace takes her in an unexpected direction. Free spirit Chris introduces her to a different perspective on life – and the possibility their friendship can become something deeper.
As Stella’s life opens up, Daniel’s choice doesn’t deliver the freedom he expected.
Will she find it in her heart to offer compassion and support to the father of her children? She can choose to stay mired in yesterday’s regrets – or do what she can to create a brighter tomorrow for them all.
I’m just going to say from the get go that I struggled with this story. My initial impression going in was that this was to be a change of life story: husband leaves wife, wife discovers her life needs to change now, she forges a new path. I don’t mind those sorts of stories so I had hopes that this book might offer a pleasant diversion for the evening. It’s set in the 1980s too, so there was a lot of potential for women’s roles to be explored – which the author indeed did very well.
‘She didn’t even rate on the women’s liberation scale, was an absolute zero. And how surprising was that? She’d grown up surrounded by women who didn’t work outside the home, devoted their entire lives to caring for their husbands, children and ageing parents. They talked about prolapsed wombs, not politics. Forget university – most of them hadn’t even finished high school. They were followers, not leaders, and their husbands made all the important decisions.’
I liked the way Stella, the main character, stumbled into a new career by way of exploring something she liked as a hobby and then stepping further into it from there. Within this context, the novel was insightful. Stella had to really step up and extend her confidence in order to make this new career work in with being a single mother. And she did, she worked damned hard, and it was great to see her overcome the barriers she had put in place within her own life and witness her breaking free of them. Another enjoyable aspect of the story was the strong female friendship between Stella and Annie – I just wish Stella had listened more closely to Annie a bit more instead of constantly making excuses about her enabling and weak will.
Now, it’s probably best if I give you a little summary of the story itself by way of explaining where my issues with it were. I am, even now, still utterly perplexed by this story. So, Daniel tells Stella he’s leaving her and she is shocked – understandable, he’s been doing his level best to hide an affair with his eighteen-year-old apprentice. He’s thirty-one. Early mid-life crisis, much? There are chapters where we are in Daniel’s perspective, I think to generate some empathy for him? All the ‘poor me’ rubbish just confirmed my view that he was a dickhead. I didn’t feel sorry for him at all. You now have to support two families? Boo hoo. So, Stella and Daniel split up, except, he doesn’t move out. Stella moves into her daughter’s bedroom and sleeps on a foldaway bed. She still cooks all his meals, does his washing, while he comes home late each evening from shagging his teenage girlfriend. There is something fundamentally wrong with this woman. This whole arrangement is creepy; there’s this love/hate, hot/cold thing happening that just made me feel a bit disgusted, to be honest. And it goes on for months. Terribly toxic and not at all healthy for their two young children to witness. Then, as if things weren’t strange enough, Stella starts to invite the new girlfriend around so she can get to know the kids better. She even cooks a family meal for them all and leaves them to it. On another occasion, she babysits the girlfriend’s younger siblings while her own children are at school. People don’t do this! This is ridiculous! I was not even a little bit convinced by Stella’s ‘I’m too busy to hate you’ inner Zen routine. Too much of a doormat, more like. Running alongside all this is a friendship Stella has struck up with an odd new-age guy called Chris and his girlfriend, who is an eighteen-year-old paraplegic (what’s with all the eighteen-year olds?). This friendship between the trio becomes rather intense rather rapidly. Despite having not long lost her husband to another woman, Stella in turn becomes the other woman with Chris. Yes, she betrays her new friend, an eighteen-year-old woman who is a paraplegic. What a peach! Just as this relationship is getting off the ground, Stella has hate sex with her husband and finally kicks him out of the house. Chris finds out and disappears for months. He finally comes back and everyone becomes friends and it’s all a beautiful life.
And that’s just the cliff notes.
I am not the right reader for this book. The two stars are for the bits about her getting out there and getting a career and the lovely friendship with Annie.
Thanks is extended to Daisy Lane Publishing for providing me with a review copy of After Goodbye.
Published by Daisy Lane Publishing
Released March 2020