Through hanging around on the Internet, I discovered ‘NetGalley’. It’s a site which allows reviewers to request complimentary copies of books, on the understanding that in return for the free copy, they
review the work and give feedback to the publisher. ‘After I Left You’ was the first of my requests to be accepted, so I was excited!
‘After I Left You’ is the story of Anna Jones, an Oxford graduate. Having moved on in life after University, an unexpected encounter with a former lover causes her to confront the traumatic events which over-shadowed her final days at St Bartholomew’s College. After so many years, can she gain some closure?
The book is written in the first person, switching between Anna’s current and former lives as she is drawn to reminisce about her student days spent in the company of a close circle of friends – Clarissa, Meg, Victor, Barnaby and Keith. As well as flashback, it uses several plot devices to progress the story, and also has some literary references. There are twists and turns, leading to the revelations of what happened to Anna at the Summer Ball.
I found this novel frustrating. I am extremely familiar with Oxford and felt that Ms Mercer failed to capture the magic of the city or the complexity of student life. Her characters felt flat, one-dimensional. Although the plot draws events to a conclusion, the whole book left me feeling dissatisfied. Sorry, but not a book I feel able to recommend.