After Annie

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Pub Date 17 Jul 2024 | Archive Date 1 Jun 2024

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‘Candid and complex ­– and ultimately quite hopeful’ Claire Lombardo
‘Beautiful and deeply moving’ J. Courtney Sullivan
‘A story of abiding hope’ Mary Beth Keane
When Annie Brown dies suddenly, her husband, her four young children and her closest friend are left to struggle without the woman who centred their lives. Bill Brown finds himself overwhelmed, and Annie’s best friend Annemarie is lost to old bad habits without Annie’s support. It is Annie’s daughter, Ali, forced to try to care for her younger brothers and even her father, who manages to maintain some semblance of their former lives for them all, and who confronts the complicated truths of adulthood.
Yet over the course of the next year, while Annie looms large in their memories, all three are able to grow, to change, even to become stronger and more sure of themselves. The enduring power Annie gave to those who loved her is the power to love, and to go on without her.
Written in Quindlen’s emotionally resonant voice, and with her deep and generous understanding of people, After Annie is a story that ends with hope, a beautiful novel about how adversity can change us in profound ways.

Praise for Anna Quindlen

‘Leaves the reader feeling grateful, wide awake, lucky to be alive’ Michael Chabon
‘Simply impossible to forget’ Alice Hoffman
‘Qualities and shades of love are this writer's strong suit, and she has the unusual talent for writing about them with so much truth and heart’ Elizabeth Jane Howard
‘Breathtaking... Quindlen writes superbly about families, grief and betrayal. I was completely mesmerised’ Lisa Jewell
‘Engaging, immaculately constructed storytelling’ Guardian
‘One of our most astute chroniclers of modern life’ New York Times Book Review
‘Brave and beautiful’ The Times
‘Her storytelling is exemplary’ Sunday Telegraph
‘With relentless and dazzling brilliance, Quindlen grapples with the lancing pain and the swirls of disorientation experienced by anyone who has loved and lost’ Daily Mail
‘A wise, closely observed, achingly eloquent book’ Huffington Post
‘Overwhelmingly moving’ New York Times
‘Candid and complex ­– and ultimately quite hopeful’ Claire Lombardo
‘Beautiful and deeply moving’ J. Courtney Sullivan
‘A story of abiding hope’ Mary Beth Keane
When Annie Brown dies suddenly, her...

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ISBN 9781398525184
PRICE £16.99 (GBP)

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Featured Reviews

This is a quietly amazing and satisfying book to read, just a simple story about a young woman, mother of four children who dies suddenly one day of natural causes. The story is about her life and the aftermath of her death and the effect of grief on her children, her husband Bill and her best friend Annemarie. The story rattles along in an easy to read simple and almost meandering way, then suddenly stops you in your tracks a few times with sentences that are so right and say something so well. There's a story about how Bill as a child never went anywhere overnight and felt sick the first time he did, unable to sleep and literally quite unwell beign away from home. The loss of Annie is 'a new version of homesick' for him now. Another part tells of how Bill's laptop had been playing up and the technician he had help him said he had a lot of things on there, running in thr background that Bill was totally unaware of. Now 'he knew Annie had been running in the background' keeping their lives going and he hadn't noticed.

I liked the ordinariness of the lives depicted very much. Annie hadn't qualified as anything, got pregnant early on and got married young. She and Bill are ordinary but the story is dramatic as any - love and death, tragedy and comedy. There are no heroes or villains (apart from one very peripheral figure) but normal people living their lives in a small town and it carries you along very well.

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I got something in my eye a few times during this book - the raw grief of Annie’s family is palpable and affecting. I have read a number of Anna Quindlen’s books and they have always been good - I don’t know why she has not gained a wider recognition in the UK as I would thoroughly recommend her, she is similar to Ann Patchett.
A sad, but ultimately life affirming read.

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When young mum Annie Brown dies of an aneurysm on her kitchen floor, she leaves behind her shocked and devastated family in turmoil. Her bewildered husband, Bill, throws himself into work but feels bewildered and unsure how to cope. Their teenage daughter, Ali, feels obliged to take on responsibility for the house and for her three younger brothers while trying to find a way through her own grief, her prepubescent brother Ant retreats into silence and withdrawal, and the two little ones just really miss their mother. Annie’s best friend, Annemarie, tries to help but her pain and loss threaten to trigger her addiction to narcotics which Annie had helped her beat some years before. Slowly they begin to find a way to carry on living without the woman at the centre of their world. This is a beautiful and poignant book which really rings true. Quindlen handles a difficult topic with sensitivity but manages to avoid undue sentimentality in this portrait of a family whose heart has been ripped out, yet who have to continue to function in a life that has changed dramatically. She is very skilled at showing the awkwardness of death and how people deal with it, from the well-meaning neighbours to the rather predatory single women of the area who quickly zone in on Bill. Although she dies at the beginning of the story, Annie is very much a presence, someone who had the life she had always wanted and was content in a way few are. Her kind and thoughtful treatment of the elderly patients in the care home she works at, her support for Annemarie even when her addiction led her to constantly let her friend down and the way she is described as really seeing both Bill and Annemarie in a way that nobody else does explains why she was so loved and is now so missed, but this is also why her spirit lives on. The writing is spot on- Bill feels that Annie was like the hub of a wheel, and without her the family are a group of spokes, going nowhere, while the old flame he begins seeing is very forebearing but expresses her occasional displeasure by blowing through her nostrils. Sad but also life-affirming, this is a wonderful read that will stay with me for a long time.

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