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After This

3.26 of 5 stars 3.26  ·  rating details  ·  2,000 ratings  ·  346 reviews
Alice McDermott's powerful novel is a vivid portrait of an American family in the middle decades of the twentieth century. Witty, compassionate, and wry, it captures the social, political, and spiritual upheavals of those decades through the experiences of a middle-class couple, their four children, and the changing worlds in which they live.

While Michael and Annie Keane
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ebook, 288 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published January 1st 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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K.D. Absolutely
Oct 16, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Angus Miranda
Recommended to K.D. by: Pulitzer
Shelves: pulitzer, drama
This is one of those novels that I thought to be a so-so and yet it turned out to be exceptionally good. For me, its strongest suit is the opening scenes. There is no earth-shattering event like atomic bomb or an unforgettable quote but just a description of a woman coming out from a late morning visit to a church to pray. That scene is so vividly described complete with the wind blowing and the and a very detailed account of the church’s steps, the feet of that woman, the sea breeze and the off ...more
Amy
I had a hard time connecting to this book, and it took me quite a while to finish it; I never really wanted to pick it back up and resume. It was well-written and I appreciated the quiet subtlety of McDermott's writing, but...I don't know. I just never felt that engaged with it.
Katie
This book was pretty boring and definitely lacked character developement. Very hard to get into.
Joshua
Alice McDermott has a gentle yet incisive voice and really excels at evoking the feel of a time and place with her narration. One fascinating point of this book is that the most important event is never shown, thus contradicting the "show don't tell" maxim of creative writing. But by the event's very absence, the novel achieves an appropriate mood of absence and recovery.
Elizabeth
This book is unlike any other I have ever read. Her writing style astounded me... throughout the book I had a hard time defining the plot in my mind, yet I knew the book was incredibly well written and the message clear. Moving through the lives of several character, McDermott smoothly uses foreshadowing, repetition, idioms, and symbolism to emphasize various significant points.

This was my first experience reading McDermott, and I must admit I was a little caught off guard. While she moved quic
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Carole M
I felt this was an absolute waste of time. I abandoned it a little more than halfway through, completely fed up of McDermott's random comments about individual characters... and attempts at creating mystery by only vaguely alluding to certain things (the early birth of Clare, how Mr Keane will eventually die and many more).


Having just read "All The King's Men" which was so beautifully written and all the character development felt relevant and important... "After This" just felt like the uncoor
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Lexie Keller
I loved it. Love LOVE In fact I will probably read it again soon, immediately after finishing it. This book was just beautiful. Spare but fully observed and it's clear McDermott's heart swells along with her characters-- I felt like I had several genuine moments of revelation throughout this little ordinary novel about a NY Catholic family over several decades. I've read (and enjoyed) most of McDermotts books and this newest is the best. Maybe my favorite contemporary novel. ?
Ann-Marie
After searching for "Charming Billy" I settled on this slim little book. I had heard next to nothing about it but now that I've completed it, for me this was the kind of writing and story where afterwards you want to read reviews, book club discussion questions and more to retain the mood, the atmosphere, the raw memories it's stirred. One review from USA Today (consider the source)in particular distressed me. The reviewer remarked that "After This" "failed as a cohesive novel." Clearly, the coh ...more
Denise Kruse
A sad yet hopeful, subtle yet powerful look at a changing time. Alice McDermott's exquisite words take us to a time, those few significant years when children soak it all in– observing and being formed. The novel begins when the roles of men and women are defined, WWII-era parents of big, Catholic families do the best they can, the Church can do no wrong (or at least few admit it with any fervor), and what is considered "PC" then is not the same as today.

Then the 60s happen.

…their father agreed
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Alicia
Alice McDermott specializes in Irish-American-Catholic suburban life and is a National Book Award winner for her novel Charming Billy.

By the age of thirty Mary was not expected to marry, having settled into life taking care of her father and brother. But contrary to all expectations, the spinster meets and charms John, a war veteran. This novel follows John and Mary Keane and their children through courtship, raising children and enduring loss. When their eldest child goes to Vietnam and never r
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Claire
Beautiful words, sentences, and detail. Lovely vignettes from moments in individual lives. But why? Why this family at that time? I struggled to find a narrative thread through the book and I couldn't understand why McDermott had decided that this family were worthy of her words, rather than the neighbour's next door, or the ones down the street.

My other issue with it, is that as the children grow up and some leave home three of them are allowed their own little scenes, in bars, in cars, having
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Emma
This book was recommended to me as one that gracefully handles long sweeps of time. The book follows a couple as they meet, marry, have children, and watch those children grow. However, the point of view is omniscient, allowing us to travel from one character's head to another, often over the course of just a page. While it's interesting to get so many perspectives, this also had the effect of making it difficult to get into the story, as I didn't feel as attached to any of the characters as I m ...more
Syd
This is my second McDermott read and I liked this one even less than Charming Billy. Her writing is good, but this novel seemed so disjointed - haphazard even - that I couldn't relax into the story for even a moment. I developed no attachment to a single character because there were too many and not much time devoted to any of them. After This? After WHAT?????
Catherine
AFTER THIS is a quietly interesting book. The content is an Irish Catholic family and what happens to them. The family expresses little emotion but through their subtle gestures you get to know them. The book is low on plot and heavy on characterization.

The book is really about the passage of time and what happens to all of us as we slide toward death. We meet the family as children and watch them grow up. We meet young optimistic parents and see and feel their cherished moments and their traged
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Jenny Shank
http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news...


After This, by Alice McDermott
Author conjures up another tour de force with post-WWII tale
Jenny Shank, Special to the News
Published September 7, 2006 at midnight

When Alice McDermott's novel Charming Billy beat out two sprawling tomes by literary heavyweights for the National Book Award in 1998 (Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full and Robert Stone's Damascus Gate), The New York Times described the victory as a "surprise." But those who had been following McDermott's
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Peggy
This is the story of Mary and John Keane and their four children. They are an Irish-Catholic family living in Long Island, NY. We meet Mary Rose a thirty-ish single woman who lives with her father and brother, her mother is dead. She wonders if she will ever get married. John Keane is home from the war with a bum leg as a result. They meet one day at a diner over lunch and our story of their life together begins.

I am not a Catholic, but I love reading novels with characters, like Mary and John,
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Patty
I spent a year with Charming Billy, by McDermott. It was one of our books for Richmond Reads, a community reading program for the greater Richmond area. It was a good book and it stood up to discussion and re-reading.

To be honest, though, I had not given McDermott much thought since that year. I liked Charming Billy and I had enjoyed That Night which is now a bit dated. A description of After This had crossed my desk and I wondered what her latest book was like. (This is McDermott's latest even
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K
Jun 08, 2009 K rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: die-hard Alice McDermott fans
Shelves: couldntfinish
Life proves to be too short once again, and I'm not going to bother finishing this. I remember picking up Charming Billy multiple times in the States and thinking, it must be me, because this book got rave reviews. I finally managed to force myself to finish it when I had moved to Israel and was in the throes of a book shortage and I still didn't get what all the hype was about. I remember feeling like, I should like Alice McDermott. She writes poetically, and she seems like a deep author -- why ...more
Matt
I'm not sure I've ever said this about a book before, and I say this is my most hetero voice, but it's a really beautiful story. There's not much of a plot, which I normally can't stand, but you really get to know these characters. It's the story of an Irish Catholic family growing up in New York in the 50s and 60s and deals with a lot of serious subjects, like abortion, the Vietnam war, depression, without the real story getting sad or depressing. You see the kids grow up in detail, but it's no ...more
Elizabeth
This has to be the most compelling novel I've ever read in which almost nothing happens. "After This" feels more like a series of vignettes, or linked short stories. It describes several decades in the lives of the Keane family - from the parents' meeting through when their children reach adulthood. Each chapter is told from a different family member's perspective.
The book progresses from the late 40s through the 1960s and McDermott does a wonderful job evoking the feelings and realities of tho
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Tara
After This is a story about the Keane family and the years that this family struggles and grows through. It starts with the day Mary meets John, then moves to their lives with small children. As the book progresses, the reader "watches" the 4 children: Jacob, Michael, Annie and Claire, grow into the adults they are destined to become. It's an interesting look at the lives of people who live through wars and protests.

That being said, I just didn't like the way the story was written. I felt like t
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Mara
All in all, I really liked this book. The slow, languid pace somehow fits the story perfectly. My one complaint is that the story treats time almost like a stone skipping over water. At the end of one chapter, two people meet each other, and at the beginning of the next, they are married with three children and a fourth on the way. Then, suddenly, we are another 5 years or so in the future (references to WWII and the Vietnam War anchor the story generationally, but there's very little to give so ...more
P.J. Lee
Alice McDermott writes in the crevices of ordinary lives, in particular the lives of Irish Catholics in New York. Her eye is a magnifying glass detecting detail in the fabric, reminding the reader of the pleasures of such attention.

Her world is ordinary - the churn of a generation in an unexceptional family. It's a meandering journey, and some readers might fall by the wayside, but I stayed with it for the intimacy with the characters and the recapturing of a period -- 1950s-1970s, the impact o
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Will Byrnes
I have enjoyed books by McDermott before, thus my interest in this one. This is a portrait of an Irish American family in the post war period up to today. There is much that feels familiar to me about the characters, the worldview, the Catholicism, the resignation. But I found that I did not feel any real attachment to any of the characters, male or female. They all felt to me like literary mechanisms, useful as a means of getting points across about the changing culture of the 20th century, but ...more
Kate
I fell in love with this author's style of writing on the first page. I don't remember reading anything like it before. I found her way of describing things to be beautiful, soothing and effortless. Reading her work was like gliding over the words. Her style, rather than the story, was what kept me reading this book to the end.
There wasn't anything wrong with the story, there just wasn't anything that I found incredibly compelling. The story follows an Irish Catholic family in the 1950s and 60s
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Peggy
In preparation for McDermott's latest I picked this up at the library. How did I miss it before? Her writing does not remind me of anyone else's. A blurb on the back called it "realist." Realist but without any judgement. Her characters, her narration is like seeing things crystal clear but letting the reader fill in the emotion. She never feeds it to us. I particularly enjoyed the early stories, perhaps because they were from a time of more hope with the later stories set during the Vietnam war ...more
Oswego Public Library District
A couple marries and raises four children. That's the story. In this nonlinear, character-driven literary novel, this family moves through the last half of the 20th century. They are middle-class and Catholic, ordinary and even typical. But that is oversimplifying the story. This is about those small connections that create a shared humanity. Marriage is present with its hopes and disappointments. So is bringing a child into this world and seeing them leave it. McDermott is highly observant abou ...more
Howard
NOTE: Possible spoiler alerts.

A very good story about the lives of Mary Keane, her husband John, and their kids Jacob, Michael, Annie, and Clare. As in her novel Someone, Annie McDermott follows lives through many years; here we start just after World War II and go into the 1970s. We watch Mary and John meet (just when Mary was afraid she would be a spinster) fall in love, have kids and grow old together.

McDermott does a wonderful job in laying out the hopes and fears that grip us all. When Mar
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Brandee
This was my third Alice McDermott book, but neither of the last two measure up to "Someone", in my opinion. This was a great book, though. I love her writing style: so thick with detail and rich with complicated feelings that we all know but are so difficult to put into words; yet, McDermott does it so well that is is clear and seemingly easy, which only adds to the complex mystery of how she does what she does. Fascinating writing. The story in "After This" was interesting enough; some parts I ...more
Sterlingcindysu
3.5 rounded down. What's with the cover--low budget?

I really don't know what the title refers to. In fact, I kept forgetting what it was. Perhaps it just refers to life, "after I get through this, life will be perfect (or at least better)."

The best part of the plotlines (and the longest) was Mary's "friendship" with Pauline. There are always 'friends' in our lifetime that aren't really friends, they're co-workers, or neighbors, or parents of our kids' friends but they're not really friends. We
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The Book Club: General Discussion of After This 2 7 Aug 06, 2013 10:49AM  
After This 3 21 Mar 12, 2009 04:52AM  
  • The Manikin
  • An Unfinished Season
  • The Feud
  • All Souls
  • Whites
  • Bear and His Daughter
  • Shakespeare's Kitchen
  • Persian Nights
  • Paradise
  • Mr. Ives' Christmas
  • Love in Infant Monkeys
  • John Henry Days
  • Mean Spirit
  • Servants of the Map
  • American Woman
  • Unlocking the Air and Other Stories
  • What I Lived For
  • Evidence of Things Unseen
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Alice McDermott (born June 27, 1953) is Johns Hopkins University's Writer-in-Residence. Born in Brooklyn, New York, McDermott attended St. Boniface School in Elmont, Long Island, NY [1967], Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead NY [1971], the State University of New York at Oswego, receiving her BA in 1975, and later received her MA from the University of New Hampshire in 1978.

She has taught at the UC
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More about Alice McDermott...
Someone Charming Billy Child of My Heart That Night At Weddings and Wakes

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“It was not the future they'd been objecting to, but the loss of the past. As if it was his fault that you could now have one without the other” 6 likes
“It was in its strangeness and in its familiarity an illustration of someone else's life going on in its own way, steeped in itself, its own business, its own dailyness, its own particular sorrow or joy, all of it more or less predictable” 3 likes
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