Review: After Her: A Novel by Joyce Maynard
Title: After Her: A Novel
Author: Joyce Maynard
Themes: Coming of Age, Familial Relationships, Identity, Divorce, Loss of Innocence
Setting: Marin County, California 1979
Point of View: First Person Voice of Rachel Toricelli
Publisher/Publication Date: Published August 20, 2013 by William MorrowRating: Four of Five Stars
Finished/Not Finished: Finished
First Line: "A little over thirty years ago. on a June day just before sunset-aloe on a mountain in Marin County, California-a man came toward me with a length of piano wire stretched between his hands, and the intention of ending my days." After Her: A Novel by Joyce Maynard
One-sentence summary: During the hot summer months of 1979, two sisters try to maintain normalcy in their lives as their father works the Sunset Strangler case.
Cover Art: Neutral on the cover
Try After Her if you liked...We are Water by Wally Lamb, The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison, or The Never List by Koethi Zan
Buy, Borrow, Listen, or Avoid: Buy, Borrow, or Listen if you like mystery/thrillers, which deals with the types of themes previously mentioned.
Why did I get this book?: I liked the summary, and I am a fan of Joyce Maynard's body of work.
Joyce Maynard portrays ordinary people going about their ordinary lives in some pretty unique, or some might, say bizarre situations like no other writer. In her latest novel, After Her, she does it again. We experience the summer of 1979 for two sisters, Rachel and Patty, as seen through the eyes of the oldest sister, Rachel. This is no ordinary summer, it is the summer where young women are being found dead on the mountain behind their home, Mount Tamalpais. The same mountain where these girls have played for years. In an ironic turn of events, it is their womanizing, detective father who is charged with finding the serial killer dubbed the Sunset Strangler and bringing him to justice. Interestingly, Maynard used the real Trailside Killer case as inspiration for her story which also took place in the late seventies in Marin County, California.
This book addresses so many diverse themes, yet the author makes moving between Rachel's life at home and school and the case her father is working seem effortless. If you are looking for the case to be solved like an episode of Law and Order this is not the book for you. Nothing is tied up in a nice bow for the reader, in fact, it takes thirty years before Rachel is able to find the answers she sought as a thirteen year old. The reader will be greatly rewarded for sticking with Rachel's story. This is yet another great read from Joyce Maynard.
Summary of Courtesy of Goodreads:
The New York Times bestselling author of Labor Day and The Good Daughters returns with a warm and haunting novel of sisterhood, adolescence, sacrifice, and suspense
"Maynard illuminates the human experience."-People magazine
It's the summer of 1979, and a dry, hot, northern California school vacation stretches ahead for Rachel and her younger sister Patty-the daughters a larger-than-life, irresistibly handsome and chronically unfaithful detective father who loves to make women happy, and the mother whose heart he broke.
Left to their own devices, the inseparable sisters spend their days studying record jackets, concocting elaborate fantasies about the life of the mysterious neighbor who moves in down the street, and playing dangerous games on the mountain that rises up behind their house.
When young women start showing up dead on the mountain, the girls' father is charged with finding the man responsible, known as The Sunset Strangler. Seeing her father's life slowly unravel when he fails to stop the murders, Rachel embarks on her most dangerous game yet: setting herself up as bait to catch the killer, with consequences that will destroy her father's career and alter the lives of everyone she loves.
It is not until thirty years later that Rachel, who has never given up hope of vindicating her father, finally smokes out the killer, bringing her back to the territory of her childhood, and uncovering a long-buried family secret.
As with her novel, Labor Day, Maynard's newest work is part thriller, part love story, Loosely inspired by the Trailside Killer case that terrorized Marin County in the late seventies, her tale delves deep into the alternately thrilling and terrifying landscape of a young girl's first explorations of adult sexuality and the loss of innocence, the bond between sisters-and into a daughter's tender but damaged relationship with her father, and what it is to finally trust a man.
Does After Her: A Novel by Joyce Maynard grab your attention? Is it a novel you'd be interested in reading? Have you read any books by this author? Let us know here at The Things You Can Read!
Happy reading to all! ☮
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