B.'s Reviews > Life After Yes

Life After Yes by Aidan Donnelley Rowley
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Jun 01, 2010

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bookshelves: read-in-2010
Read from June 01 to 04, 2010

I was given an ARC of this novel by the publisher, Avon, an imprint of Harper Collins.

Life After Yes chronicles the emotions that overwhelm Prudence Quinn O’Malley, a 27 year-old Manhattan attorney, after she accepts her boyfriend Sage’s marriage proposal. Her anxieties about what her “yes” will mean for the rest of her life are played out amidst her struggle to reconcile the loss of her father a year earlier in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Along the way we meet her friends, one of whom is a fellow lawyer with a brash exterior that hides massive insecurities, and the other, an eternal optimist pursuing her own conventional dreams of happily ever after. Her friends play to the dueling aspects of Quinn’s personality that, all truth be told, are most likely present in us all: the prudent, careful nature that can keep us tied to jobs we don’t like or partners who are not all what we had hoped for, and the competing inclination to take a risk and move into unfamiliar territory that can allow us to find happiness in unexpected ways. Rounding out the cast of characters are Quinn’s wisecracking personal trainer, old flames, assorted partners and associates at Quinn’s firm, and members of both their families, including the image of Quinn’s father that the reader gains from her recollections. As the novel progresses, the reader is introduced to the world of big firm lawyering with all its warts and the genteel South that is Sage’s home, and made aware (if he or she was not already) of the peculiar pull that the world of technology has on this generation, as personified by the ubiquitous blackberry.

I have to admit that when I received this book I was afraid that I might not be able to relate to Quinn and her “issues” given that I am technically old enough to be her mother, although my daughter is only beginning college. While I have no doubt that those of Quinn’s generation and younger will find much to identify with in Ms. Rowley‘s sharp and well-written dialogue, I was a little skeptical for myself. Much to my pleasant surprise, however, I enjoyed Life After Yes, in large part due to Ms. Rowley’s insightful depictions of the emotions experienced by Quinn’s mother and future mother-in-law at the prospect of the impending marriage. Without revealing too much of the story, there is a passage toward the end of the novel in which Quinn’s future mother-in-law opens up in a way that will powerfully resonate with any mother out there who has experienced on some level letting go of her child. As well, Quinn’s inability at times to decipher what is right for her is not limited to her generation, as I daresay that there are few among us who have not felt at one time or another that we may be on the wrong road. Finally, I appreciated that Ms. Rowley remained true to her characters by resisting the escape of a happily ever after ending.

If you’re looking for a summer read that is above and beyond the type of books that show up on “best beach read” lists, I would try Life After Yes.



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