Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Elizabeth and After” as Want to Read:
Elizabeth and After
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Elizabeth and After

3.43  ·  Rating Details  ·  348 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
A touching and resonant story of a man who returns to the small town of West Gull, Ontario, to mend his family’s legacy of alcohol and violence, to reconnect with his young daughter, and to reconcile himself with the spirit of his beautiful mother, killed several years earlier in a tragic accident. Elizabeth and After masterfully wraps us up in the lives of Carl and his fa ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published April 11th 2000 by Vintage Canada (first published 1999)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Elizabeth and After, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Elizabeth and After

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 672)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Oct 26, 2009 Chana rated it it was ok
I didn't find the story line significant. It was hard to keep track of characters because the story was not sequential. There is a lot of weather and scenery in this book, which is OK but I found that eventually I was skimming those parts. The descriptions are good but the action is slow. I wanted to shake the author and say, does anything ever happen? Then things happen but the characters talk about the action in such a laconic and round about way that it makes it seem like nothing happened. I ...more
Winner of Canada's prestigious Governor-General's Award, this is an incredibly intricate novel about a small town and its people. West Gull is in Ontario but could be anywhere in the world where small towns survive. Protagonist Carl McKelvey, who is reminiscent of Richard Russo's characters, particularly Sam Hall in The Risk Pool, returns to West Gull for reasons seemingly unknown to him and others in town. In West Gull, Carl had left an ex-wife and a daughter, a dead mother, an old father, and ...more
Jan 11, 2009 Peter rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Matt Cohen is one of the real underappreciated Canadian Writers. This is typical of his work, lyrical, evocative and moving depictions of people torn by guilt, struggling to survive.
Jul 17, 2016 Steen rated it it was ok
Shelves: meh, 2016-books
I don't really know what to say about this one other then I finished it. I found that I couldn't keep some of the characters straight or visualize how old each were compared to the others.

It wasn't super horrible but honestly I will probably forget what happens in it before to long. It just wasn't that memorable. It was kind of interesting reading about Kingston and Napanee, ontario though. Both places I have been before. But that makes sense because Matt Cohen was a Canadian author.

I was a bit
Dec 19, 2011 Julia rated it really liked it
"All happy families resemble each other, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." - Leo Tolstoy

I applaud this Canadian author for such a descriptive and heartbreaking story.

27 year old Carl returns to his small home town after being away for 3 years, to reconnect with his young daughter and to put behind him his legacy of violence and alchohol that had led to his divorce.

As he tries to rebuild his life, he finds that it is not an easy thing to do, in a town that has a long memory.
Greg Heller
Apr 13, 2011 Greg Heller rated it really liked it
A brilliant Canadian author that died far too soon. This is a book that took over 10 years to write, but is well worth it. Set in a fictional town north of Kingston Ontario.
Dec 06, 2015 Pamela rated it liked it
(view spoiler) ...more
Linda Karchmar (Cameron)
Feb 10, 2016 Linda Karchmar (Cameron) rated it really liked it
I feel like I've read this before - or watched the movie, but I don't know if this was a movie...? I think I did read it before a long time ago, but it was still good! Makes me think again of re-reading books I've read!
May 13, 2015 Amie rated it really liked it
A great read, on small town life, but there are so many characters, that I am sure I missed a lot of things.

Jun 30, 2012 Abby rated it it was amazing
A strong, emotionally powerful and character-driven story that's both heartbreaking and at times very funny. Cohen's writing never ceases to amaze me. His attention to detail is impeccable as always, and the layers of his story so thorough. Once again he shows he is a master at telling stories so real and so human you feel immersed in the fictional town of West Gull and its inhabitants.

This is not a book for those who like fast-paced, action-driven stories. It moves slowly to observe minute deta
Holly Hollyson
Aug 31, 2014 Holly Hollyson rated it liked it
I did enjoy this book, although it took me quite a long time to read it. I felt that some of the characters were underdeveloped and that made it confusing at times, I frequently had to go back to re read sections. I loved that it was set in Ontario - I could imagine the little town very easily! About half way through the book, it became much easier to read and I made better progress from that point.
Feb 21, 2016 Kathy rated it it was ok
Like an extra boring Richard Russo, only in a Canadian setting.
May 20, 2014 Anna rated it really liked it
Mentions my hometown!
Feb 08, 2014 Amanda rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, deadtree, 2014
This book! I wanted to start reading it again, poring over the details I probably missed, the minute I turned the final page. So good.
May 28, 2016 Elizabeth rated it liked it
Shelves: classics-and-lit
A little slow paced but very interesting. An interesting look at small town life where everyone has a secret and nobody really knows the truth about everyone except for the reader as this tale is told. There was so much sadness and heartbreak but it was hard to feel bad for the characters because of the choices they made. I definitely wasn't expecting that ending but maybe I should have since it ended almost how it began.
Kristine Morris
Mar 10, 2015 Kristine Morris rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian
So wonderfully descriptive. Like the way the author visits the same event from different perspectives, and keeps you guessing as to what is going to happen in the end. Bittersweet ending.
Bruno de Maremma
Oct 01, 2007 Bruno de Maremma rated it it was amazing
Having grown up in small town Ontario, I think he has done a marvelous job of describing life in that environment. Not to mention that it is a fine read as well.
Jul 12, 2014 Caleigh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 110-cbc
A woman who settled when she shouldn't have dies before she gets a chance to break away. Very good reading but makes you long for something cheerier.
Maryruth Endicott
Loved that the story jumped around. Allowed you to feel what the characters were dealing with and kept you guessing and engaged.
Ed Hayden
Nov 22, 2013 Ed Hayden rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent story. Superb writing, weaving in and out of situations. Couldn't wait to read what's coming next.
Sep 01, 2015 Arlie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
A novel about the people we are and the people we think we need to be.
Jun 05, 2013 Wendy added it
Read this one right after He passed away... it is a hauntingly beautiful story.
Apr 01, 2013 Barb rated it really liked it
Shelves: canlit
** is pissed off ... GR somehow managed to lose my review!
Barbara Gard
didn't like it or finish it
Feb 09, 2009 Anne added it
Not particularly memorable.
Dec 14, 2007 Foreign added it
Shelves: france-phebus
French editor: Daniel Arsand
The Chicks
Val's pick
Amy LeBlanc
Amy LeBlanc marked it as to-read
Aug 21, 2016
Mary Fraser
Mary Fraser marked it as to-read
Aug 21, 2016
Devon is currently reading it
Aug 20, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 22 23 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Certainty
  • George And Rue
  • Creation
  • Kamouraska
  • Swamp Angel
  • The Double Hook
  • Une saison dans la vie d'Emmanuel
  • Whale Music
  • Rare Birds
  • Six Metres of Pavement
  • The Romantic
  • Lives of the Saints
  • Bear
  • Holding Still For As Long As Possible
  • Nights Below Station Street
  • Rockbound
  • The Amazing Absorbing Boy
  • The Time In Between
Matt Cohen studied political economy at the University of Toronto, and taught political philosophy and religion at McMaster University in the late 1960s before publishing his first novel, Korsoniloff, in 1969.

His greatest popular success as a writer was his final novel, Elizabeth and After, which won the 1999 Governor General's Award for English-language Fiction only a few weeks before his death.
More about Matt Cohen...

Share This Book