After I Left You by Alison Mercer
Anna hasn't been back to Oxford since her last summer at university. She tries not to think of her time there, or the tightly knit group of friends she once thought would be hers forever. She has almost forgotten the sting of betrayal, the secret she carries around, the last night she spent with them all.
Then a chance meeting on a rainy day in London brings her past tumbling back into her present ... Can Anna finally face up to the memories of that summer and the people she left behind?
If that doesn't grab you then I don't know what will!
I met Alison Mercer last summer during Henley Literary Festival and she very kindly sent me a copy of After I Left You. I put it on my to be read bookcase and then my book wormery left me, I would walk past the book case and take out a book from time to time but I wasn't in the reading zone, for anything. Somehow it came back and one day I reached into the bookcase and took out After I Left You. I made a cup of tea, curled up with the dog and started reading.
Once I started I couldn't put it down. Having been to college in Oxford it all seemed so familiar and I was once again on my bicycle haring around the streets of with my friends.
The book begins on a rainy day in 2011 when Anna, purely by chance, bumps into an old friend and is thrown into turmoil. For anyone who has had a first love and has been badly let down it will strike a chord. The emotions, the hurt, the pain, the reading between the lines are all there and as a reader you want it to be all ok.
Anna was part of an eclectic group of friends, a strong collection of people with huge personalities, hidden talents and all too obvious faults. However people change and do things you can't forgive or forget. As Anna gingerly steps back in the group of friends everything gradually comes out and by the time you get to the end you will feel you have been part of that group and will rage, cry and smile for everyone of them.
After I Left You is a very clever title, it isn't just about after Anna left university, it's about after she left people, places and situations and how she gradually picks up the pieces and finds happiness and contentment.
I loved this book and it took me a while to stop running through the plot and thinking about people I'm no longeer in touch with and wondering what they're up to after I left them. A beautiful setting, realistic plot, a variety of different characters and a book that stayed with me long after I have put it down. That's what makes a good book for me.
Thank you Alison, sorry it has taken me so long to read it!