BOOK CLUB: After the Party

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Author: Cassie Hamer
ISBN: 9781489257895
RRP: $29.99
Publication Date: 18 February 2019
Publisher: HQ Fiction
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

“After the Party” is a light piece of contemporary fiction that’s good fun to read, although not overly emotionally involving. Still, it’s well written, and isn’t trying to pretend that it will spark any deep soul searching.

Lisa Wheeldon is normally a very organised person, but for some inexplicable reason, she’s completely failed with her daughter Ava’s fifth birthday party. She’s left everything to the last minute (why is never really explained) and now her morning is in total chaos. This explains why she doesn’t notice an extra, un-invited child among the 32 invited guests. But she most certainly does notice when the child’s mother doesn’t come to pick her up, and it becomes increasingly clear that she doesn’t intend to.

Lisa and her sister Jamie begin a search for the errant mother. They choose not to involve the police, but as the weeks pass, they begin to worry that perhaps they’ve bitten off more than they can chew. Both sisters are being forced to face some uncomfortable truths about themselves and the lives they’ve chosen.

I felt the tone wobbled a little in the early chapters – as though it wasn’t quite sure yet whether it was a relatively light drama, or was going to turn into a domestic thriller. The plot could easily have gone either way. Fortunately the novel soon settles into the lighter path, and I felt the two elements melded very well after that. The mystery isn’t overly compelling – apart from the basic question of why you’d ever abandon your child – but the characters are strong enough that you want to keep reading.

It’s interesting that the characters are so engaging, because at bottom they’re really a series of stereotypes. The harried mother who’s lost something of herself. The young woman who on the surface has everything, but isn’t sure she’s happy. The good but not strongly drawn husband. The boyfriend who makes you roll your eyes because almost certainly, you dated someone that immature at some point. The flawless romantic prospect. And yet, their behaviour is interesting and credible enough that you genuinely want to find out what happens to them.

“After the Party” is well suited to its’ intended audience. There’s some (not particularly ground breaking) commentary about the challenges of motherhood, delivered often in a borderline comic tone. There’s a romance that doesn’t feel as high stakes as I think the author might hope for. The mystery elements around the abandoned child add a needed edge to the novel, but aren’t too overblown either. Readers looking for something well written but not too challenging are going to enjoy this.

I am a little tired of the trope of cliquey, fashionable, competitive mothers, partly because that’s not been my own experience at all. Hamer uses this trope in a more interesting, more realistic way than many writers, and this may strike a particular chord with mothers still in those early school years.

I did feel (and I’m trying to avoid spoilers here, so excuse the mild obscurity) that perhaps the novel skated a little too lightly over the emotional aftermath of events in the novel and what happened immediately afterwards. However, to be honest, such an examination wouldn’t have fitted at all with the overall tone of the novel. The last chapter, as written, is probably better for the reader than such an examination.

There are a number of things in the novel that you can criticise when you’re looking at it analytically. But as a reading experience, it’s a smooth and flowing read, light and good fun, and not overly demanding. We all have moments where we just want to be entertained, and “After the Party” does that well. It’s not very memorable, but a lot of people will just plain enjoy reading it.

This guest review was submitted by Lorraine Cormack, one of our long-time Beauty and Lace Club members.Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us Lorraine.

Cassie Hamer can be found on Facebook, Twitter and her website.

After The Party is published by HQ Fiction and is available now where all good books are sold.

Thanks to HQ Fiction 15 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading After The Party so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

13 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: After the Party

  1. I really enjoyed this novel by Cassie Hamer. After The Party touched on so many wonderful themes including the importance of family, the lengths parents go to protect their children, friendships and love lost and found. It was an easy and well flowing read and there were so many parts where I just couldn’t put the novel down!

    Lisa is the main character in the novel and stumbles across a situation where most people would probably freak out and run. However, she is strong woman and mother and does whatever she can to protect Ellie and treat her as her own.

    I love the relationships Lisa has with her sister Jamie and quirky friend Heather. I was laughing out loud in some chapters and in others I was shocked and was on the edge of my seat.

    It was joyful read and one I will proudly display on my bookshelf and pick up again to read in the near future.

    Thank you Beauty & Lace and HQ!

  2. After the Party by Cassie Hamer – reviewed for Beauty and Lace Bookclub
    Lisa is a busy Mum of two little girls trying to put on the best 5th Birthday Party for her daughter, Ava.
    She hopes to impress and get to know the Mums from school.
    But what could go wrong does go wrong. Not only does she not impress but at the end of the party she is left with an extra child!
    Surely Ellie’s Mum is just running late?
    When Ellie’s Mum doesn’t return Lisa discovers a note asking them to take care of Ellie until she can return.
    As Lisa and her family become attached to little Ellie they still have no idea where her Mother could be.
    What could possibly lead a Mother to leave her child with strangers?
    Lisa, her sister Jamie and an unlikely friend, Heather search to find the answers.
    I enjoyed the characters and the relationships that formed. This was an enjoyable book that took a few twists and turns and covered a lot of topics.

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