Sunday, January 13, 2013

Australian Women Writers: Kylie Ladd's After the Fall

This review is part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013

After the Fall is a romance about couples. There are two married couples at the centre of the story. Plus two people from these couples make a third, of the extra-marital kind.

If you're into the contemporary romance genre, then Kylie Ladd's first novel may be for you. The existence of a hot, tangled affair that threatens both marriages is made clear from the start. The main characters are straight from comfortable, educated middle-class Australia: a pediatrician, an advertising exec, an anthropologist and a geneticist.

We experience the unfolding events in detail from first person narrations by the four principals plus some of their friends. Chapters vary from a paragraph in length to several pages. These different points of view create a sense of multiple realities. Fortunately, with one major exception, the plot does not rely on misunderstandings based on misinterpretation of what is actually happening.

Kylie's background in neuropsychology plays little part in helping the reader to understand why apparently rational people make seemingly irrational decisions based on being in love, the quality of the sex or what used to called pure animal magnetism.

There are a lot of sexual encounters in the novel but by and large we are spared much of the intimate detail. The first kiss is probably the hottest moment of the story.

We get close up to a range of human attributes from altruism to egoism, from passion to stoicism, from bubbling self-confidence to personal insecurity.

There is plenty here to keep your interest but the insights don't add a lot to understanding what makes modern relationships succeed or fail. Or what drives seemingly self-destructive behaviour in those relationships.

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