BOOK CLUB: What is Left Over After

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What is Left Over After is Natasha Lester’s debut novel, recently re-released by Fremantle Press.

I’ve been a big fan of Natasha Lester’s for years. Her historical fiction novels have been published all over the world.

I have loved following Natasha’s strong female leads in her historical novels; trail blazers for women’s rights.

For me, What is Left Over After was a little different to Lester’s novels I am used to reading. This is contemporary fiction and the main character, Gaelle, is broken after suffering a life altering tragedy.

Gaelle is filled with self-hate, she feels she can never be any different from her mother, she acts out on these feelings filling herself with more hate and self-doubt. She does the only thing she knows; she runs away from her life and husband.

As Gaelle hides in a small seaside town in Western Australia where no-one knows her past, she begins to open up to a vivacious thirteen-year-old girl. She tells the young girl the story of her life, growing up with a mostly absent mother and no father, continually moving from place to place.

The pouring out of her life story comes as a strange fairytale her mother told her as a child.

What is Left Over After is a heart-breaking story of love and loss. Lester explores the concept of what makes us who we are and can you change your life after a dysfunctional childhood.

The story is emotional and the tragedy real. It has a strange story within a story with the inclusion of the fairytale.

Natasha Lester’s writing is engaging and even in this debut novel her potential shines through.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading What is Left Over After by Natasha Lester. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

7 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: What is Left Over After

  1. Thank you for the copy of What Is Left Over After by Natasha Lester.

    Gaelle beauty editor and her husband Jason seem to have all they need, but then things start to go wrong. Gaelle struggles to deal with relationships and family, and then she has baby Aurora. This changes her relationship with Jason and she needs to get away. She goes to the coast and finds a friend in a thirteen year old girl. They have a few things in common and begin to to help each other. Through all this Gaelle finds what is left after. Part of the story goes back through Gaelle’s childhood with her mother and grandparents and goes a long way to explaining how her life has ended up the way it has.

    Gaelle is a bit hard to like or understand at the start, but as we learn more it becomes clearer why she is the way she is, and it becomes easier to like her. I ended up hoping she would get her life together and work through her issues. I have read historical fiction of Natasha Lester and am now wondering if there is more general fiction of hers I can read. This was a thought provoking read which I recommend for anyone interested in family.

  2. What Is Left Over, After by Australian author Natasha Lester is a powerful fiction story taking you on a journey through the emptiness of dysfunctional grieving.

    Gaelle, a Beauty Editor living in Sydney with her heart surgeon husband Jason is 36-weeks pregnant. She lives a self-satisfying and fulfilling life but all that changes when she goes in to have an emergency caesarean and her baby is stillborn.

    The story begins one month after Aurora was born on the night of her due date, Gaelle is numb and feels alone in her grief, she begins to have sex with various men to erase the memory of her baby girl and her identity as a parent. Jason becomes engrossed in his work and has no idea how much his wife has changed.

    Feeling disconnected and void of all emotions Gaelle deserts her life on her thirtieth birthday with little belongings, she travels to a small seaside town in Western Australia. Whilst there she meets thirteen-year-old Selena who soon becomes her confidant. Gaelle reveals stories of her childhood in London with her mother after moving from her grandparents’ farm in France.

    How she handles the loss is not straightforward, I enjoyed how the author takes Gaelle on a wayward journey and you feel her frustrations at every angle. Can she deal with the loss? Can she grow through it? Can the void in her heart be filled again and how?

    The reader is pulled into the hearts of the protagonist, feeling the contours of her grief and pain. Natasha Lester writes with expertise on the subject, showing there is no way to grieve. Gaelle is faced with a personal maze, which is messy, chaotic, and hard, leaving her with an empty space on her sanity and grip on life.

    My feelings truly went on a roller-coaster ride, I found myself getting emotional as I went through the ups and downs with Gaelle. There is heartbreak, grief, loss, regret, courage and, most of all, love. There are a few surprises that I didn’t expect, and it made the story that much more interesting.

    The mark of an excellent book is the way the storyteller brings you into what is a real-life situation, and I could not fault Natasha’s writing style throughout the entire book. At the end of each chapter, I was left wanting to know what would happen next, as if I were reading a suspense novel. She personalises this story with ease and grace.

    What Is Left Over, After is honest and straightforward. The themes of a stillbirth and dealing with such tremendous pain and finding your way back will connect with readers.

    Thank you, Beauty and Lace and Fremantle Press, for the opportunity to read and review.

  3. Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Fremantle Press I was lucky enough to review “What is Left Over After” by Natasha Lester.

    Gaelle is a Beauty Editor, successful, married to a heart surgeon and still has the same best friend from childhood. She appears to have it all.

    The story starts by Gaelle, and her husband Jason, having a daughter Aurora. Gaelle, finds out a short time later she is pregnant again, but this time not with Jason’s baby. She has a abortion and later tells Jason about this at her 30th Birthday celebration. She then runs away.

    She goes back to WA where she once lived. Here she befriends Selena, a young girl who looks up to Gaelle as a big sister. They bond, they hang out and they talk. Gaelle begins to tell Selena stories from when she was growing up. Along the story line you also get a story that Gaelle’s mother used to tell her as she was growing up.

    As the story goes along you get a sense of what is really going on with Gaelle, where her life has ended up and why she has run away.

    There is love, heartbreak, friendship and moments of awakening in this story.

  4. I love Natasha Lester’s historical fiction books so was delighted to receive a copy of What is Left Over After, a very different genre of writing for her.
    The book is about Gaelle, a young French woman who has moved to Australia and is a fashion writer for a magazine. She is married to Jason, a heart surgeon and life is pretty good. They have a lovely home in Sydney, good friends and a happy life.
    Gaelle has had a difficult upbringing, she has lived with her French grandparents until her wayward mother decides she should live with her. There is never any stability moving from France to London to America and Australia with her mother rarely home to care for her daughter. Gaelle eventually returns to live with her grandparents whom she loves. Due to her childhood Gaelle is uncertain whether she wants a child but Jason does and sadly things don’t go to plan for either of them.
    Gaelle runs away to Perth, on her 30th birthday, where she once lived with her mother and befriends a 13 year old girl Selena. Selena and Gaelle bond over photography. Over time Gaelle sees life through Selena’s eyes and realises she must go home to Jason and face her life.
    This is a well written if not sad story which intersperses the present time period with Gaelle’s childhood told as a story to Selena.
    I loved Selena she is an inquisitive yet intuitive teenager who is wise beyond her years.
    The book deals with complex motherhood issues and is hard to read at times so have the tissues ready but the book ends with hope and understanding for a better future for Gaelle.

  5. Thank you for this book reading opportunity.

    I found the book very difficult to get into and start reading.
    The main character seemed selfish and annoying to me. I suppose it’s a good writing style if you can evoke that sort of reaction from the reader.
    It’s a book about relationships but I found the character manipulating and not likeable.

    This wasn’t for me but could certainly be enjoyed by others.

  6. It took me awhile to realise that this was not a new Natasha Lester read, but her first novel they are re marketing, So I had actually already read this quiet some time ago.
    It was hard to not compare it to Lester’s more recent novels, which are very different.
    The story follows Gaelle through her losses and stories revolving around her relationships with family and friends.
    I found the beginning slightly disjointed…but as the story continued it proved to be a thoughtful story about loss, motherhood and the dynamics of family. ..the author delves into these as Gaelle faces her past memories. Not my favourite of Natasha Lester’s but an enjoyable read

  7. Thank you for allowing me to read Wchat is left over after by Natasha Lester. I like some others, didn’t realise at first that it was her debut novel.
    I thought it was different to some of her others books. It concentrated on Gaelle’s upbringing overseas and her life when she came to Australia.
    She was quite a selfish person but I was glad people persevered with her, especially Selena.

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