Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for After the One by Cass Lester!
April 16th is always one of Charley’s worst days of the year.
It’s her husband’s birthday, a painful reminder of his death four years ago.
So naturally, her car breaks down.
She nearly gets run over trying to catch the bus.
And then she’s made redundant.
Her friends see the redundancy as a chance for her to start again and live the life she always wanted, but since being widowed Charley has clung to familiarity and avoided change like the plague. Then, out of the blue, her mother-in-law Pam pitches up in need of a place to stay after walking out on her 40-year marriage.
Together, Charley and Pam find themselves at a crossroad. It’s not easy to move on after The One, but they can’t stand still forever.
You Can Purchase the Book: Amazon UK
Cass Lester spent many years at CBBC having a fabulous time making award-winning programmes including Jackanory, Big Kids, Kerching! and the Story of Tracy Beaker. She has published a number of children’s books and is now having a fabulous time writing adult fiction.
After the One is a heartfelt story of moving on after you lose someone you thought you would be with forever. Although I have read multiple novels with the same concept of life after losing the one you love, I do not get tired of reading them as, just like real grief, no two stories are the same. It is a very moving story featuring dealing with grief, divorce, careers, general happiness in your life, and, of course, the power of friendship. I am new to reading the works of Cass Lester, but this novel has me very intrigued to read more!
Our story picks up four years after Charley lost her husband, Josh. She is still grieving over his sudden passing and she does not know how to move on. She and Josh were just starting their lives together as Josh was only 32 when he passed away. She goes to work every day at a realty company doing admin work and is made redundant when the company is taken over by another. She now is left with a home and herself to support with no idea what she actually wants to do with her life and career. Although not everyone can directly relate to the loss of a spouse, her uncertainty for her future is very relatable as there are millions of people that find themselves in a similar situation every day.
Charley is a complicated character as I found myself wavering on how much I liked her. She was very well-written, but I just found myself becoming very frustrated with her for almost the entire novel. For me, I would love to know more about her before she met Josh as there are some personality traits that I had difficulty understanding if they were a character change due to her life changes or if they were just her from the start. For most of the novel, Charley either would be completely clueless or she would want to quit because something would be too difficult. She is extremely fortunate that she has incredible friends surrounding her as she was able to have a fantastic support system and also a sounding board when she was trying to figure out the next steps in her life.
She is in need of funds and decides to get a lodger. Luckily, her mother-in-law, Pam, shows up on her doorstep and is in need of a room. Pam’s husband of forty years has been having an affair and Pam has left him to go live with Charley while she finds out what she wants to do next. I admired that Pam and Charley remained close after Josh’s death and it is interesting how they each dealt with their own grief. Pam was a character that I greatly enjoyed as she was logical in her thought processes, but also managed to factor in the emotional sides. The book changes POV between Charley and Pam while also occasionally switching to some of Charley’s friends. I loved the duel perspective of Charley and Pam as they are each going through their own life changes, but I had a like-dislike relationship with the other friends. I loved seeing their own lives as they are very interesting characters, but it sometimes threw off the rhythm of the story.
Tara, Angie, and Nisha (Charley’s friends) were a delight and could easily have their own novels dedicated to them. Tara is very opinionated and likes to dole out advice, especially to Charley, which can be a lot if it is directed at you. I have a lot of friends that are similar to Tara and I love that, just like the character, they may be overbearing sometimes, but it all comes from a place of love. Angie is an art designer that is now a stay-at-home mother and it was very interesting to read about her struggle some days where she wonders what life would be like if she went to work. She loves her life at home, but there are days where it is overwhelming, which is a very relatable trait, especially to many stay-at-home parents. Nisha is a fairly career driven woman dealing with her own divorce after her husband went with another woman and is now contesting the divorce settlement.
Charley’s character progression was well-written and enjoyable. She is nervous about stepping out of the comfort zone of a career she’s had for years and is unsure about pursuing her new dream of opening a Prosecco Themed Shop. Luckily, her friends and Pam are there every step of the way. There are many events that occur with this portion of the storyline that I could not relate to as I could not understand how Charley gets from Point Z without going through A through Y and it somehow works out. It is not impossible, but just seemed very improbable. It is written well though to showcase friendship and the strong bond that people not related by blood can share. Charley’s back and forth about her wanting to move forward, but also wanting to hang on to the memories of the past was both heart-warming and heart-breaking. The entire story captivated my attention and I ended up reading it in a single sitting. I became invested in all of the characters and wanting to see how each of their lives would turn out once I reached the final page. This novel was, overall, a great read, and I would recommend it to others.
**I give a special thank you to Rachel @rararesources for the opportunity to participate via Netgalley with this excellent novel from the publisher, Canelo, and the author, Cass Lester. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**
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