AFTER YOU by Julie Buxbaum

Buxbaum I picked up After You on a bit of a whim the other day – it seemed like a relatively light read, which I was in the mood for. In that respect, it didn't disappoint. It's the story of Ellie, a thirty-five year old woman from Boston, whose best friend Lucy is murdered in a tony London neighborhood in front of her 8 year-old daughter Sophie. Ellie, who is at a crossroads in her relationship with her husband, flies to London – for several months – to help take care of Sophie and process her friend's death. While there, she is forced to confront the problems in her marriage and learns about some problems in Lucy's marriage that she didn't know about.

I had heard of Julie Buxbaum before I bought After You. She is a fellow Harvard Law School alum who, like me, appears to have left the law for greener pastures. Her first book, The Opposite of Love, got good press, and I was curious to read one of her books. While I enjoyed After You and found it readable and compelling, I also thought it was kind of predictable. I don't want to give away too much, but there were some plot twists that seemed cliched to me, like I have read them before. Ellie was also frustrating to the point of irritation at times. I don't have to like all the characters I read about, but if I can't understand why they are acting as they are – if even they don't even seem to understand what they are doing – then I get turned off. There were also some plot points that got short shrift here. They had the potential to make the book more interesting – Lucy's double life, for example – but were left relatively unexplored.

I liked the London setting and Buxbaum's clear, fluid prose. i just wish she had taken some more risks with this book and gone in some directions that didn't feel like well-traveled paths.

I just did a search for other reviews of this book, and am finding that I am in the minority here. Several bloggers whom I respect a great deal – such as Heather from Book Addiction and Swapna of S. Krishna's Books, enjoyed After You a lot and had very positive things to say about it. So you might want to check out their reviews to get a balanced view of this book.

Relax, FTC, I bought this one myself at the Strand.

5 Comments

  • December 27, 2009 - 12:56 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never read any of Buxbaum’s work, but I have heard lots of great things about it. Sorry it was just so-so for you.

  • December 28, 2009 - 3:36 am | Permalink

    I haven’t read any of Buxbaum’s novels but I don’t like predictable plots or characters.

  • December 28, 2009 - 11:12 am | Permalink

    I just read a book that I really didn’t like then when I went to check other reviews, found that some people loved it. It always makes me wonder if I just missed something or if I was just unable to let somethings go and enjoy the book.

  • Kiki
    December 28, 2009 - 8:18 pm | Permalink

    I read this one over the summer–what I liked about it was the use of The Secret Garden and the discussions about loving that particular book (which I do). But I pretty much concur with you about the book for the most part. I was kind of wishy-washy about the plot and characters, especially Ellie, although I felt the book had potential when I picked it up. Her relationship with her husband was especially annoying to me for some reason. Oh well–we can’t all love every book!

  • January 15, 2010 - 12:54 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this book and it inspired me to read The Secret Garden. I also picked up The Opposite of Love after reading this.

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *