When Indigenous lawyer Jasmine decides to take her mother, Della, on a tour of England’s most revered literary sites, Jasmine hopes it will bring them closer together and help them reconcile the past.
Twenty-five years earlier the disappearance of Jasmine’s older sister devastated their tight-knit community. This tragedy returns to haunt Jasmine and Della when another child mysteriously goes missing on Hampstead Heath. As Jasmine immerses herself in the world of her literary idols – including Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters and Virginia Woolf – Della is inspired to rediscover the wisdom of her own culture and storytelling. But sometimes the stories that are not told can become too great to bear.
Ambitious and engrossing, After Story celebrates the extraordinary power of words and the quiet spaces between. We can be ready to listen, but are we ready to hear?
‘After Story is a powerful meditation on family, culture, storytelling and the lingering effects of trauma and grief. This is an extraordinary novel … After Story is sprawling, cerebral and compassionate. It feeds the brain, offers much-needed vicarious travel and leaves the reader with hope that fraught relationships can be mended.’ Readings
‘This beautifully fashioned novel stands testament to the proposition that good fiction can cut to the chase of complex social problems in ways that might leave an entire library of self-help non-fiction found wanting in its wake.’ The Canberra Times
‘Della and Jasmine are both battling through their own trauma - their personal loss as well as the stole land and lives which weigh on them - from different bases. In a novel where their stories converge so inevitably, and sweep so many other stories in their wake, Behrendt shows she is a writer of considerable, and increasing, power.’ Meg Keneally, The Australian
‘After Story delves into darkness to show that truth-telling can set us free ... it's a pleasure to read and a wonderful opportunity to rethink what we have to offer the world around us.’ The Saturday Paper
‘We might think we know what to expect from this whirlwind week of bookish sightseeing: family secrets, writerly anecdotes and a splash of tour-bus drama. These comfort-reading delights are certainly present in After Story but they're layered over something anguished, characterful and quietly consequential ... with its glimmering seam of humour, Behrendt's novel offers a much-needed reminder that novels don't have to be relentlessly somber to be serious.’ The Sydney Morning Herald
‘Behrendt is able to both celebrate the power of Shakespeare’s or Brontë’s art and mourn the vast cost of their colonial transplantation. She suggests that a Eurocentric “culture” divides everyone – including Europeans – from culture. Literature’s “ideas and ideals” both drive and damage us, an illusory yardstick with which to beat ourselves.’ The Guardian
‘While persisting intergenerational trauma is a thread that runs through the novel, After Story is also a marvellous evocation of travel that takes the form of literary pilgrimage.’ ANZ LitLovers LitBlog
‘Larissa's writing is rich and captivating ... After Story shows how the past, family ties and grief travel with Della and Jasmine to the other side of the world, and the power and importance of great stories in their lives.’ Lydia Tasker, Sydney Writers' Festival
‘After Story is a captivating tale. ... Behrendt's characterisation is immaculate. There are too many wonderful things to say about this book ... The story is heartfelt, respectful and nuanced, and the characters are relatable. This might very well be my favourite book for 2021. I can't recommend it highly enough.’ The AU Review
‘A fantastic novel by Larissa Behrendt ... A really sophisticated piece of writing ... I really enjoyed After Story ... It's very very gripping, I couldn't put it down.’ Annabel Crabb, Chat 10 Looks 3 Podcast
‘The author has also cleverly interwoven into the story layers, British history and literature, as well as giving an honest account of white Australia’s racist past and present ... a truly special book.’ ReadPlus
‘This mother and daughter travel tale is a gem that shines with truth and respect for story... The voice is very Aussie, frank, almost disingenuous, as if Della was having a D and M with her sister. She’s not afraid to speak her mind and neither should those who work in the industry.’ CBD News