Title: After She Wrote Him
Author: Sulari Gentill
Published: April 7
Cups of Tea: 3/5
**I received this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review**
After She Wrote Him is metafiction mixed in with mystery and crime fiction. The writing in this novel is very beautiful and well-written; the characters seem to jump off the page. I had to read this novel very slowly and carefully in order not to miss any small important detail. I was not as invested as I could have been, there were limited excitable moments. I kept looking at how many pages I had left on my e-reader and I wanted to skip to the end to see how it would be resolved.
Madeline and Ned are both writers, Madeline writes crime fiction and Ned writes literary fiction. Madeline is writing about Ned, and Ned is writing about Madeline; but who is the real author and who is the real character? That is the question that this novel proposes to the reader. After She Wrote Him explores literature, how writers work, and the writing process.
That’s what we trade in, we writers. We’re crafts of lies. We call them novels or stories or narratives, but in essence they’re collection of lies, interesting, thrilling lies that make you laugh and cry, but in the end, still lies.
The story of Madeline and Edward (Ned) was interwoven seamlessly together throughout the novel. Their lives were woven into both of their perspectives and played a major role and influenced each other stories and narratives. The more Madeline and Ned wrote about each other, the more they became real and part of each other’s reality, their characters literally came to life before their eyes.
Madeline closed her eyes and waited for Edward McGinnity, called him from that part of her soul where stories were held awaiting release
I originally thought that Madeline would be a reliable narrator, the same with Edward but I quickly realized that this was not the case. The reader is left to question what is real, what is part of the narrative, and is left with more questions than answers in this novel. The reader is trying to figure out who killed Vogel in Ned’s time line while trying to figure out who is writing whom, which character/author is real and which is made up; or if both authors/characters are made up and figments of each other’s imaginations. It’s all very complex.
His shadow fell on the ground before her, and Madeline wondered if she was already too lost. How could something she imagined block the sun, how could a character cast a shadow, and why did she long for him?
I didn’t like the continuous mention of Madeline’s miscarriages throughout, it make it seem like this was the main reason for her downhill spiral, depression, and her obsession and delusions with Ned. I also didn’t like the continuous comparison to the novel Madeline is writing to her previous series of crime fiction, I thought there was no need to keep mentioning this at every opportunity.
At the end of the novel, I still was not sure who the real writer was and who the character was. I think Gentill meant for the reader to draw their own conclusions of who are the writer and the character. Parts of After She Wrote Him dragged on and I had a hard time concentrating in these moments. I would have liked for this novel to delve deeper into the metafiction/philosophical aspect this novel seemed to want to explore towards to end but this ultimately lost its impact for me. Overall, this novel was 3 out of 5 cups of tea. I enjoyed it, but I craved more.