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After This

3.32  ·  Rating details ·  3,357 ratings  ·  523 reviews
A vivid portrait of an American family in the middle decades of the twentieth century.

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 fou
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Hardcover, 279 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by Farrar Straus Giroux (first published January 1st 2006)
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Johanna Jaworski The author ends the book with the stories still continuing. The parents are older, the daughter has a new romance, the remaining son is embarking on a…moreThe author ends the book with the stories still continuing. The parents are older, the daughter has a new romance, the remaining son is embarking on a new career. I thought the idea was to show how all our individual stories, moments and tragedies that seem so important to us as they happen, come and pass quickly, connecting each of us to the larger picture of humanity.

That said, I flew through this book, (enjoying every bit) and might have missed something! (less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Dennis I was puzzled by the part with Michael as well but I realized upon re-reading that part that it was a fantasy, something he would have liked to be abl…moreI was puzzled by the part with Michael as well but I realized upon re-reading that part that it was a fantasy, something he would have liked to be able to say to Susan. As for the wedding, I think Jacob accompanied his father in spirit; it was a bit metaphorical since not everything was stated directly but at times referred to in someone else's thoughts or speech.(less)

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Average rating 3.32  · 
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Linda
Nov 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Times change. People change.

And no matter how we rearrange the furniture around that notion, we can never step aside of the truth. That curl of our hair, the snorting laugh, the gait of our walk, the tall and the small, and the testy temperment. Shaken and stirred, we are who we are.

Alice McDermott sets her story down among the familiar bungalows of twentieth century Long Island. John and Mary Keane met and married before the leaves even had time to turn color. And four children seemed to follow
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Will Byrnes
Sep 15, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Diane Barnes
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the story of an unremarkable family not unlike many that we know or are a part of. It's the story of the middle part of the 20th century that those of us of "a certain age" remember very well. John and Mary Keane meet, get married, have 4 children, raise them in the Catholic faith, weather the storms and tragedies of life while trying to be good people, and pretty much do what's expected of them. It doesn't sound very exciting, and it isn't really, but the beauty of this novel is in the ...more
Amy
Apr 16, 2008 rated it it was ok
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.
K.D. Absolutely
Jun 29, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Katie
Mar 13, 2008 rated it it was ok
This book was pretty boring and definitely lacked character developement. Very hard to get into.
Carole
Mar 01, 2008 rated it did not like it
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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Jeanette
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Absolutely enthralled me! Wonderful window into the period and the people in a certain place.

It doesn't hurt that it was so very similar to my own, and in the same time period as Annie's.

Ordinary people. Normal. Family structure that holds. Faith in an immortality.

And also some fun and insights along the way. Brothers that don't "fit" but they deal with it. And each other.

Alice McDermott is priceless. And she does the men as well as she does the women. Girls, boys of her time and of her belief
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Joshua
Jan 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
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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Ann-Marie
Nov 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Lexie Keller
Feb 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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. ?
Peggy
Oct 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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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Regan
Nov 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Regan by: Isn't too attached to the idea of story.
Haiku Review #2:
Not much of a plot.
But Alice really can write.
The wind blew a lot.

Jenny Shank
Nov 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
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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Denise Kruse
Jul 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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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Eileen
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although I was mostly taken with this novel, the impact didn’t compare to that of the author’s latest work, The Ninth Hour. There were a couple of parts in After This I actually skimmed, but overall the book was enjoyable. Again, the author portrayed an Irish American community with a tender accuracy. Her descriptions are understated, yet powerful. She can bring the most ordinary moments to life! For instance, here’s the opening paragraph:
‘Leaving the church, she felt the wind rise, felt the pin
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Syd
May 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
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?????
Alex Stroshine
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is the best novel I've read all year. Touched with grace and hints of miracle, Alice McDermott weaves a gripping tale about the Catholic Keane family. The parents and four children must come to grips with the changing mores of America during the 1950s and 1960s and how these effects drastically affect their lives.
Cherise Wolas
There were moments of beauty, of scene, place, character development, interiority, and the forward movement of time, but this book never caught fire for me, I was never eager to get back to it. I'm glad to have read it, to have met these characters, but it was a halting experience for me.
Alicia
Sep 09, 2007 rated it liked it
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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K
Jun 07, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  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
Claire
Aug 19, 2012 rated it liked it
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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Orla Hegarty
Apr 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: daughter
I enjoyed her writing style and the characters and story were very engaging.
Pete
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
A poignant and gritty novel, bravely encapsulating death, love, war and peace.
Barbara
Nov 05, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. I really liked this and I’m looking forward to reading more Alice McDermott.
Elina
Nov 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
A book in which ordinary lives are made boring by descriptions of wind, arms, furniture and church building. What the heck did I just read!?
Harriett Milnes
Apr 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-star-books
I didn't think much of this book after reading it.
Emma
Sep 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 21st-century
After This is not the book that the paperback blurb promises it will be. Do not read this novel expecting that the plot will develop into a climax in which "the youngest, Clare, commits a stunning transgression after a childhood spent pleasing her parents"—in fact, do not read this novel expecting an explosive, stunning climax of any sort. This is not a juicy multi-generational drama. This is a novel about white Catholic middle-class people doing white Catholic middle-class things, and the gradu ...more
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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The Book Club: General Discussion of After This 2 16 Aug 06, 2013 10:49AM  
After This 3 24 Mar 12, 2009 04:52AM  

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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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