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After the Fire, a Still Small Voice

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  1,180 ratings  ·  184 reviews
Frank and Leon are two men from different times, discovering that sometimes all you learn from your parents' mistakes is how to make different ones of your own.

Frank is trying to escape his troubled past by running away to his family's beach shack. As he struggles to make friends with his neighbours and their precocious young daughter Sal, he discovers the community has fr
Paperback, 296 pages
Published 2010 by Vintage Books (first published September 2009)
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Average rating 3.61  · 
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 ·  1,180 ratings  ·  184 reviews

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May 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned
I felt like this book lacked direction. I expected the two storylines to come together much more than they did, which led to the ending falling flat for me. I love Wyld's writing style—and I really loved her second novel, All the Birds, Singing—but these characters and their journeys weren't nearly as interesting. I would still read anything else she writes, but wouldn't recommend this one as highly. ...more
lucky little cat
Australian author Wyld's debut novel is harder to read (and harder to love) than her more recent novel, the enthralling All the Birds, Singing .
One of Clark Little's stunning waves

After the Fire features a troubled main character, Frank Collard, who chucks it all to go live by the beach, where he gradually earns a place among the locals. But the alternating chapters that give his father's and grandfather's stories (in the Korean and Vietnam wars) make it a trial to keep track of what happened
Richard Derus
Women can be sexist pigs, too. Only thing is, it's okay when they're nasty, dismissive, judgmental about men. Don't believe me? Read AFTER THE FIRE, A STILL SMALL VOICE.

A thoroughly unpleasant book.
Feb 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
“Eucalyptus blanketed the room. He had the feeling that the trees were peering in through the windows, that they had uprooted and crept over to take a peek. The leaves of the banana tree on the roof were a gentle tap tap tap let me in”

After the Fire, a Still Small Voice is the first novel by prize-winning Anglo-Australian author, Evie Wyld. A story that spans three generations, it is told from the perspective of Frank, who, in the present day, is fleeing behaviour he is ashamed of; and of Leon,
May 28, 2013 rated it liked it
While I was reading ‘After The Fire…’, I came across this quote:

“Remember, there are two kinds of light: the steady blue flame at the heart of darkness and the false, desperate sunshine of the cheery countenance.”(1)

I’m fairly certain Evie Wyld wrote this book by the light of that steady blue flame, and not in the sunshine. It’s fairly unrelenting. I would say it’s part claustrophobia, part introspection, but mostly violence. Lots of different shades of violence.

It’s certainly an ambitious boo
David Hebblethwaite
I’ve been meaning to read this book ever since I came across Evie Wyld’s excellent short story ‘Menzies Meat’ in the summer. In the intervening months, After the Fire, a Still Small Voice has won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and received near-unanimous praise – now here’s some more.

What’s particularly striking about the novel, looking back on it as a whole, is how quiet it is; it’s probably the quietest book I’ve read all year. Its tone is quiet, its theme is quietness – the things that aren’t
Violet wells
Strange choice of subject matter for a first time young female novelist. Evie Wyld has chosen to write a novel about male worlds as rudimentary and imminently violent as the landscapes in which her novel is set. Clearly a choice that took her way outside all her comfort zones. I’m not convinced it was the right choice as, for me, she never quite appeared in command of her characters or her story. The story alternates between a father and a son. Except the father is always shown younger than the ...more
Feb 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lisa by: Kim from Reading Matters
A most impressive debut by a very talented writer.
Evie Wyld identifies herself as English, but there is an Australian sensibility about this novel that derives from her long acquaintance with this country. It’s not just the superb evocation of our landscape, it’s also Wyld’s familiarity with the way Aussie blokes bottle up their emotions as if to let them loose is to fail a test of male identity. This is a novel about the intergenerational damage done by war, explored from that curious Australi
Jun 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Present day... Frank has left Sydney for small-town Queensland.
A generation ago... Leon leaves Sydney after being conscripted to fight in Vietnam.

After the Fire tells the story of these two men. Chapter 1 Frank, Chapter 2 Leon, Chapter 3 Frank, Chapter 4 Leon, Chapter 5 Frank.... oh, you get the drift. The format is reassuringly consistent.

Let me start with the good stuff, the reasons I've given this book 3 stars. First and foremost, the writing is beautiful - there's a good reason that this ha
Nov 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Partly to try and offset the impact of some reviews I just don't understand, I'm going to review this book now.

It's. Really. Friggin. Good.

Honestly, if you like books that take you away from yourself, if you enjoy Peter Carey, Tim Winton, John McGahern, Richard Powers, books where landscape and place are another character, where human beings live the same messy lives we all do then please give this book a try. The last fifty pages had me completely compelled, turning pages as quickly as I coul
Bonnie Brody
Feb 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is, by far, one of the best books I have read this year. It is written in a poetic, character driven narrative by an author who appears much wiser than her years.

The story is a multi-generational dynamic of men in a family - men who have gone to war, are prone to violence and find it hard to use words to discuss their feelings. Instead of words they use alcohol, violence and avoidance.

Leon's father is a baker in Australia who signs on to fight in the Korean War. When he returns he is not th
Jeanette (Again)
Quite an ambitious debut novel for this Australian writer. I like her prose style and her ability to create a sense of atmosphere in the story.
Remember that old saying about the sins of the fathers being visited upon the children? I think this story shows how the wounds of the fathers are passed down to the sons through the generations.

The story is set in Australia. Chapters alternate between Frank and his father Leon, although the story covers three generations, including Leon's father as wel
Jan 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2016
This is not an easy book to write about or a comfortable read, but it is an impressive debut novel. The story alternates between the modern part, which follows Frank as he moves to his grandparents abandoned beach house to regroup after an abusive relationship, but gets caught up in local problems. The other part follows Frank's father Leon, first coming to terms with his own father's traumatic experiences of the Korean war and then as a conscript in Vietnam. These family stories are mixed with ...more
Liza Perrat
A beautifully-written book, but unfortunately I just couldn't get into the story; kept waiting for something to happen. I can see why other readers could love it though, the dialogue and narration is stunning.
Luke Devenish
Mar 28, 2011 rated it liked it
There's some exquisite writing here. I envy Evie Wyld's clean, unvarnished style. Beautifully composed, with startling, vivid imagery in so many places. This book has bold ambitions, which I really liked it for. Parallel stories, separated by forty years, of a father and son - the father being younger than the son for much of the narrative. Each of the journeys is quite compelling, although Leon, the father's, story initially held me more. I really enjoyed the sections about his childhood in the ...more
Oct 27, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
In a word, awful. This has to have been one of the worst books I have ever read. I kept reading, thinking there would be some huge climax or reveal at the end, and it was nothing. How this book has a 4.0 rating is beyond me, although only 16 people have read it at this point. They must be really deep. A shallow person like myself, I can hardly wait to move on to something with a plot or at least a point.
Nov 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an impulse pick - I chose it for the title, and because it's set in Australia. What an incredible find! It' a first novel, described by the author herself as a "romantic thriller about men not talking". The story moves back and forth between father and son. This is a construction that in my opinion can be very confusing and interrupting, but here it really does serve to illustrate a generational legacy of sorrow and isolation. I was riveted.

Nick Davies
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, book-group
This novel, the choice for my book group this month, was an unexpected pleasure. Coming to it somewhat unprepared and as a book I probably would not have picked out for myself, I didn't have particular preconceptions/expectations, but what it turned out to be was a very well observed examination of families and men, social history and.. oh.. it was really quite sad throughout.

Set in Australia, the book mainly follows a son and father, their distance and their closeness, and how they came to be
A challenging story, the storyline itself is challenging. War. Men fighting wars. Men from two generations being changed irrevocably by being soldiers. And what flows on from that of course is the families that become a part of the collateral damage of war. Onwards and onwards.
I am not a big fan of war and its pointlessness.
Is the spiral of damaged souls going to end with the soul searching if the current generation ? Who knows.
The book itself I found a bit slow to start but picked up intensi
I really wanted to like this book. I don't know - I don't have the greatest track record with Australia-set books. I think they lose something for me, as Australian's probably the only English dialect that I have actual trouble with. But I loved this book's title. But it didn't translated over to the love of the book. I still liked it, the prose made sure of that (and was easy to handle to an Australia-ignorant like me), but I didn't love it.

The problem is the father-son relationship as depicted
Golden Amal
The reading experience for me in a nutshell:

That's not review actually describing the book, but what my initial thoughts were.
1. "I really liked "All the Birds, Singing". Gritty, raw, a strong, female protagonist, not just a walking stereotype or cardboard cut-out. Jake felt real. Multi-layered, not one-dimensional. Something the characters lack in this novel: motivation, personality, an agenda. I'm not sure why I should root for any of them nor why I should be interested in their fate. That's
Dec 02, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
It must have been towards then end of last year that I first spotted After the Fire, a Still Small Voice, cover turned out on the new books shelf in the library. Such an intriguing title. Such a beautiful cover. I had to pick it up and find out more. I was intrigued and yet I didn’t bring the book home. I wasn’t sure that it was the book for me.

But then I read so much praise for both book and author that I began to wonder if I had made a mistake. And so the next time it appeared on the shelves I
Zachary Bush
Jun 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I ran across an Advanced Reader's/Reviewer's Edition of this book for $1.00 outside of The Strand and was initially taken with the title. Thought, what could I lose? ...nothing. This debut novel was hauntingly stunning; an absolute pleasure to read. Wylde's got guts. She has command of character conflict, detail, pacing, and dialogue. She knows how to lure the reader in ( shockingly believable through male perspectives), grab him by the throat and hold on until she's ready to let go. She had me. ...more
Alice Meloy
Aug 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe a story this good and this well-written didn't make it to the Man Booker long list. Two apparently separate story lines gradually converge in a tough and gritty tale of the legacies of war in an Australian family. Leon's father never recovered from his Korean War experience, presaging Leon's own struggles after fighting in the Vietnam War. In an alternating story line that takes place in the very recent past, Frank attempts to find himself and start a new life in his grandparents ...more
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Maybe a fraction under five stars but this a surprisingly, increasingly absorbing story in a vein dissimilar to how such books normally proceed, largely, I think, because of the writing. The depths of the main characters - both types strange and unknown to me - and depiction of place were superb and well-evoked, and minor characters equally well-rounded. I anticipate many scenes will continue to resonate.
Catriona Troth
Jul 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure why I found this book a tricky one to read. Or perhaps not tricky – just slow. It is not a long book. Nor is the language used in anyway obscure or challenging. If anything it is stripped down to the bare bones, allowing the poetry of the words to shine through.

The explanation may lie in something Amit Chaudhuri said on the wonderful BBC World Book Club. He described himself as someone with ‘a short attention span’ who was drawn to poetry because he got bored if he couldn’t find so
Mar 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Frank has returned to his childhood playground, a beach cottage near Queensland, to sort out his life after a devastating breakup, a relationship that inevitably ended when he became physically violent with his girlfriend. He loathes what he did, and runs to hide in a place that he thinks will comfort him. Once there, memories begin to eat at him, becoming so real that he turns his head and alerts to their arrival.

He can’t relate to his new violent streak, and tries to analyze what has happened
Shivanee Ramlochan
Excerpted from the full review:

"Frank Collard turns to the wild, and his grandparents’ rustic outpost in the swamplands, when an abusively disastrous relationship shatters his heart. Lonely, he gradually inches away from being corralled by the teeming landscape that surrounds his shack, to becoming a part of it, blending gracelessly and gruffly into the local milieu. Though he adapts the semblance of a normal life, rooted in work and earnest, albeit thorny, social interaction, he shares little o
Our Library Mornington
If you enjoy literary Australian fiction, then give this one a try. It is an impressive debut novel from author, Evie Wyld, who tackles the subject of father and son relationships. This compelling story centres upon a rundown shack in the sugar cane regions of Eastern Australia. Frank, his father and his grandfather have each retreated separately to the shack at some point in their lives. The building has been a haven for the men from the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Now Frank has retreated from the ...more
Debut author Wyld's After the Fire, a Still Small Voice is a quietly raging novel, full of hurt that lasts across generations. It is also intensely beautiful to read, with vivid descriptions that help to create a tone of isolation despite the numerous characters. Set in Australia, the novel follows two Collard men: Leon (the father) and Frank (the son) as each tries to reconcile his existence in the face of some form of abandonment. Frank is deeply affected by the actions and experiences of his ...more
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