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3.92  ·  Rating details ·  442 ratings  ·  60 reviews
Australia's bravest and most honest writer explores the devastating aftermath of her elderly mother's decision to end her own life.

Nikki Gemmell's world changed forever in October 2015 when the body of her elderly mother was found and it became clear she had decided to end her own life. After the immediate shock and devastation came the guilt and the horror, for Nikki, her
Hardcover, 300 pages
Published April 2017 by HarperCollins Australia
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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Jodie Gale
Nikki Gemmell started writing After, the day she found out that her mother had ended her own life.

Many of the reviews focus on the obvious topics of death and dying – but for me, this book was more about the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship , early childhood emotional neglect, emotional abuse and trauma, and the struggle to separate and individuate from early childhood wounding.

Working with women in therapy, and with a wide range of concerns, exploring and healing the mother-daug
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow!!! What a fantastic book. Could easily give 6 or 7 stars or even more.
When I bought this book was worried that it will be too depressing read, but it is not. I think it is one of the books that everyone should read. And I believe that a lot of people will find themselves in various parts of Nikki Gemmell's life story. The book is actually celebration of life, love, motherhood, friendship and all the relationships we make in our lives.
A very honest book and non-judgemental. Loved the part wh
May 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
I have been following Nikki Gemmell and the interesting things she has to say for a while now, so when I saw that she has a new book coming out about herself and her mother, I knew I wanted to read it.
The book is about Gemmell and her mother’s relationship and the untimely demise of her mother’s end of life. This book is essentially a heartbreaking letter to Gemmell’s now deceased mother and their life together. It is also about the important and often not spoken enough issue of euthanasia. Ther
Apr 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: library, memoir, 2017
Interesting but a little repetitive.
Sherry Mackay
May 20, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was interesting to me. A couple of my family members have killed themselves so I can understand how this author felt about her mother. The annoying thing about this story was that it is mostly about the writer rather than her mother. I never felt I had much of an inkling about how her mother had lived her life. It was all me me me. She kept whingeing about how the suicide affected her and her life. She never seems to come to grips with the fact that her mother was in pain and felt ther ...more
‘After’ is about the painful necessity of coming to terms with living after the unexpected death of a parent. It is a tribute to Nikki Gemmel’s mother, Elayn who committed suicide alone, most likely because it is illegal in Australia to take your own life or assist someone to do so. It is however, Nikki’s love, hate, admiration for and desire to understand her mother that compelled her to write the memoir of her mother’s life. Elayn was a woman whose beauty had enabled her to escape from the usu ...more
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’m on a roll reading really good thought provoking books. This is the true story of the death of a mother. Nikki and Elayn have a wretched prickly mother/daughter relationship. There is much love and respect but also a lot of critical judgement that exists. Elayn has always shocked and done things uniquely as a mother and she does that in death also by choosing euthanasia. The anger and grief that Nikki feels is raw yet over the course of the book she learns so much more about her mothers choic ...more
Jan Miller
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a book that Nikki Gemmell needed to write in order to move on with unfinished business between her and a very difficult mother. I think if their relationship had been more straight forward, her mother's choice to die alone and in her own way would have been easier. But it unleashed so much grief for her and by writing it out, speaking to others and getting facts about chronic pain, euthanasia etc she has come though with an ability to put things at rest. Very frank and exposing for both ...more
May 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
Controversial, raw and emotional memoir from a daughters perspective when her mother decides to take her life after a long terminal illness.
A bitter, angst filled novel where Nikki charges at her mother at close range leaving the reader feeling uncomfortable and awkward at times.
Challenging issues were raised throughout the novel provoking the reader to contemplate one's end of life routes.
Melinda Crumblin
I’ve struggled to read Gemmell’s fiction on more than one occasion, but much like with Bryce Courtenay, I find the non fiction easier to read and interesting. This was more about euthanasia and elder suicide with some grief and mother-daughter relationship thrown in. Sometimes it read just like a stream of consciousness, but I found the euthanasia issues truly gripping. Our country definitely needs to make progress in this area. Thank you Nikki for sharing your story and Elayn’s.
Alicia Marcus
Feb 03, 2019 rated it liked it
This felt like a very different style of writing that a typical novel, instead it read like a deeply personal journal of collected thoughts. That style felt a little disorientating without being directly involved with the story, but otherwise I was moved by the book and felt the presentation of euthanasia was put forward honestly and thoughtfully. I also appreciated the depiction of a less than perfect relationship between parent and child but still filled with love and respect, because I think ...more
DNF at 60% because I could not stand the judgemental tone any longer. The author is so incredibly harsh on suicide victims and vilifies her mother so completely. The book read more like ‘here is a list of all the things my mother did to hurt me’ than an actual insightful memoir. I found it upsetting to read because of the author’s close mindedness. I understand that the author is hurting, so perhaps this should’ve been written when the author has had more time to reflect. Instead it reads as an ...more
aquarian reader
Tugged at the heartstrings and raised a lot of questions about the right to die and loneliness and the complexities of families. The book almost felt intrusive at times....into Nikki's very private world of grief. However, as much as I enjoyed it I also felt it went on for longer than was necessary for the reader to sink into the abyss and climb out the other side.
Nicole Maree Foster
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Nikki Gemmel shares with the reader the horrific process of hearing your mother has taken her own life all alone due to mismanaged chronic pain.

This book, I found to have two main points 1.mismanaged chronic pain with opioid use & 2. Assisted dying/euthanasia.

Nikki explorers the barriers her mother faced in accessing appropriate health care for her chronic pain. knowledge gaps from general practitioners; lack of referral to pain management specialists & allied health & lack of treatment options
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
'After' is a soul-searching, passionate, heartfelt account of the suicide of Nikki's mother, Elayn. I found myself aching for Nikki's regret and self-reflection on her lack of presence, as well as for Elayn's disenfranchisement, increasing debilitation and chronic pain, and disconnection.

The rawness and authenticity of 'After' drew me in deeply. Nikki is eloquent in her writing, and chronicles the unintentional self-absorption we all get caught up in, inadvertently fracturing and disconnecting f
Lisa Pigna
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
This literary tragedy chronicles the story of a mother daughter relationship into adulthood and confronting the choice of her mother to take her own life as she cannot live with chronic illness and pain. Nikki's pain comes off the pages as she analyses her relationship that many times see sawed guilt and failure in not seeing her mothers needs and a lack of knowledge of her ultimate choice. The busyness of her life as a mother herself and her own journey overlays the decision to move back to Aus ...more
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a moving and frank account of the author and her family, in journal format, as they try to come to terms with her mother's suicide. She gives an honest, warts and all account of her often fraught relationship with her mother, and while chronicling her mother's frequent coldness and disapproval, is willing to accept the part she plays in their difficult relationship. It's also a story full of sadness and poignancy, as it's not till after her mother's death that she realises how much pain ...more
Michele Harrod
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I chose to read this exact book right now for so many reasons I can't really elaborate here, but I can confirm that I found this deeply cathartic on so many levels. The exploration of the mother/daughter relationship Nikki had with Elayne was both insightful and liberating. That her mother chose euthanasia and all of the probable reasons behind that, have served to reinforce my absolute conviction that the legal means and processes available to people overseas (at establishments such as Dignitas ...more
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A stream of consciousness memoir from Nikki Gemmell, following the death of her mother Elayn. Elayn suffered from chronic pain for many years, prior to taking her own life. In this book, Nikki reflects on the pain and shock for herself and her family, and her brothers and on her prickly relationship with her mother. She also tries to understand the issues around euthanasia raised by her mother's death - an act of fear or of independence. This leads to her to meet "Helena" a doctor suffering from ...more
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Nikki Gemmel wrote this book after her elderly but vibrant mother, Elayne, committed suicide. It reveals the slow process of coming to terms with her mother's action and the growth of understanding about why she had taken her own life. However it also very much about a particularly fraught mother-daughter relationship. Elayne clearly did not find motherhood easy. She was an intelligent woman but also a very vain one who expected her daughter to be a reflection of herself, and was quick to critic ...more
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How can you possibly review a book so intensely personal as After?

As the daughter of a father dying of a progressive illness, euthanasia is a topic close to my heart. I hate that, in this country, at the time, he is precluded from planning a peaceful death. As a nurse, I have thought about the future he likely has in store, and I feel incredibly rageful and anxious, perhaps paralleling Nikki Gemmell's emotional state at having her mother's self-determined death thrust so unexpectedly upon her.

Marie Doyle
Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
From page 1 this book put was emotional. Nikki Gemmell started writing this the day after her mother killed herself, and this story was an incredibly sad journey into discovering what made her mother turn to self euthanasia after years of chronic pain and life choices.

There was an incredible undertone of trying to piece together what drove her mother to this, and as part of the journey was writing about her own relationship with her mother that was fraught with coldness, disapproval and a percei
The idea of your mother dying before you - by choice - is something no one wants to face. This nightmare is Gemmell's reality. This memoir is a deeply raw, emotional and honest insight into the questions, the guilt and the unrelenting torment of a daughter who looks for answers, scapegoats and, ultimately, forgiveness.

I found this touched a nerve in my own reflections so many times. Gemmell's words are beautifully crafted, but with such haunting poignancy that I found myself almost drowning in
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
this memoir began with a dead body on the morgue having Nikki to identify her newly found dead mother. she had to unravel what, why and how her mother had done to end her life.
it’s a book about the complexity of being mothered and also mothering in terms of our own children. it’s about accepting the fact that we are all flawed and no one is perfect. it’s about recognizing our mothers, our daughters and most importantly ourselves to the fact that we’re all complex and complicated. we just need t
Suzie Bull
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a raw memoir by Nikki Gemmell, written in reaction to news of her mothers death. As you start reading it, you can feel the pain and confusion at the news of her mothers suicide, followed by the range of emotions Nikki feels as she comes to terms with it. The book then morphs into a look into euthanasia and the discussion of whether it is is empowerment or despair when one decides to go down that path when faced with terminal illness or untreatable chronic pain.
After reading this book, I
Trina Hibberd
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Would love to give a 5 star rating to this book (am incapable of giving any book a 5 star ) as it or rather the author deserves it. Gemmell articulates brilliantly through her words the fragility of the child/parent (and parent/child) relationship through to grandparent hood. Superbly written, riddled with angst, anger, unconditional love, confusion, acceptance and fear. A must read for any adult child (of which I am one), a parent (am that as well) and grandparent. Completely hijacks ones emoti ...more
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I listened to this book as an audiobook on BorrowBox. It was read by Nikki Gemmell herself. I am really thankful to hear the author’s voice reading her own words and it gave them so much more resonance.
The book was marvellous. What a soul -searching essay on childhood, mother-daughter relationships, pain (both emotional and physical) and death.
I will now buy the ebook so that I can have a permanent record of Nikki’s words because they carry a great, well -considered, honest truth to them.
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
I wish Jennifer Vuletic had read the whole book, instead of only a few of the letters. Nikki's own reading was a bit frenetic and overly emotional. A professional actor would have been easier to listen to.

I found the book rather self-indulgent. It is written as if Nikki is the most important person in the story, which I suppose is correct if you are Nikki. But as an outsider, I wanted more of the mother's story.
TikTok Oz
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book shattered me. Nikki Gemmell's writing is so powerful even when she's portraying herself at her most vulnerable. This memoir of a fractious mother-daughter relationship that is shaken to its core when the mother takes her own life will raise many questions: most of all, it brings the issue of euthanasia into the forefront and starts a conversation we need to have. After is not a linear story, at times more a pastiche of Nikki's thoughts, but it's impossible not to be moved by it.
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Nikki Gemmell has written four novels, Shiver, Cleave, Lovesong, The Bride Stripped Bare and The Book Of Rapture, and one non-fiction book, Pleasure: An Almanac for the Heart. Her work has been internationally critically acclaimed and translated into many languages.

In France she's been described as a female Jack Kerouac, in Australia as one of the most original and engaging authors of her generati

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“The grief is not over, it will never be over. It still trips me up in unexpected moments, stumbling me all over again. What does it: a reminisce with Paul, the sight of a mate laughing so easily with their mum, a Klimt painting we both loved. Simple things. Two steps forward, one step back, righting myself and then not.
But the moving forward is stronger, swifter now; the seam of melancholy more hidden. Yes, climbing back into the world. Firm.”
“Suffering should always open the door to wisdom.” 0 likes
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