After the Party is a sequel, and I suppose it’s possible that if I’d read the first one, I would have enjoyed this more – but I find it unlikely.
There really wasn’t much for me to like here. I imagine that Lisa Jewell was trying to write a book about a couple with two kids, who found themselves drifting apart, but really it was just a gossipy, ridiculous, and not terribly amusing story about a family unit that wasn’t functioning very well.
The writing style certainly wasn’t prize-winning, but it wasn’t terrible either. She managed to turn a few phrases that I found endearing.
“He was the sort of man who made no first impression at all but climbed his way slowly inside your consciousness, grew outlines and texture and color like a photo in a tray of developing film.”
There were several main problems running throughout the narrative:
1) I disliked all the characters from the beginning, and grew to hate them by the end.
2) It appeared that the author consulted a book of possible plot devices, and instead of choosing one or two, she crammed every one into this story. Abortions, miscarriages, infidelity, indifference, stalking, abandonment, being stood up at the alter etc.
3) There were numerous inconsistencies that were jarring as hell. For example, on one page, a guy shows up for dinner with some beer, and says, “I thought, curry, it should really be beer.” On the very next page, the woman to whom he just handed the beer says, “I hope you don’t mind but I got a bit inspired in the new and improved Sainsbury’s and thought I’d cook rather than order out. Are you okay with Thai food?” Also, she’d invited him for dinner via text, and specifically mentioned that they were having Thai food. This happens several other times in the book; a character will say something as though it’s never been discussed before, even though it was just covered. I suspect the author wrote this book in a few sittings and didn’t bother to go back and re-read it for the sake of consistency.
4) It’s clearly supposed to be Chick-Lit, but I’d prefer my Chick-Lit to not have numerous instances of shitty misogyny. For example, “Jem was taking a masculine approach to the situation, a practical, realistic approach.” Ah, so men are practical and realistic, while women are totally irrational at all times. Good to know!
Overall, I obviously wouldn’t recommend this to anyone, and though I do appreciate receiving a free copy from the GoodReads First Reads program, I will be donating it to my local thrift store. My apologies in advance to whomever unwittingly reads it.