EVELYN, AFTER: A NOVEL
Author: Victoria Dahl writing as Victoria Helen Stone
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Evelyn Tester is sleepwalking through her suburban life—until a late-night phone call startles her awake. Her husband, a prestigious psychiatrist, has been in an accident. And he isn’t alone.
Suddenly Evelyn’s world isn’t as tidy as she thought. And in the midst of it all is Juliette, not only her husband’s secret lover but also his patient. If news of the affair were to get out, it would ruin more than just Evelyn’s marriage. Although it’s a bitter pill for Evelyn to swallow, protecting her family means staying silent—even if, as she begins to discover, the night of the accident has consequences far more dangerous than the unmasking of an affair.
But the more Evelyn learns about Juliette’s picture-perfect life—complete with a handsome, unsuspecting husband—the more she yearns for revenge…and satisfaction. Her growing obsession fuels her rage, burning away her complacency. What will be left of her after it flames out?
Filled with biting wit and sharp observation, ‘Evelyn, After’ tells the story of one woman’s struggle to come to terms with her once picture-perfect life. Alternating before and after a tragic accident, this book poses complex questions which are not always easily answered.
As I read this compelling story, I found myself asking, “What would I do if this happened to me?” At first, I thought the answer was clear. But as Evelyn’s journey reveals, we don’t always do what’s right. People can be selfish and self-centered. The world can sometimes be a gray place.
Evelyn is the perfect wife and mother, devoted to her distant husband and her busy teenage son. But she has hidden her real self away for years, trying to be everything to everyone. She tries to please everyone but doesn’t even realize it. The author has a very keen eye for suburban life:
“Her real purse was shoved under the passenger seat, stuffed full of receipts and Kleenex and hand sanitizer and Band-Aids and cough drops and an emergency flashlight and anything else that any person in the world might need from her while she was near. An eternal diaper bag for the eternal mother.”
Of course this is a thriller and not everything is at it seems on the surface. Evelyn flip-flops between acting on what she has witnessed and letting everything go back to way it was “before.”
Evelyn had been so sure just a few minutes ago. Gary had to turn this woman in. He had to tell the truth. It was the only way to put this behind them and start over. Now she didn’t know anything.
Even though Evelyn does not behave in the most admirable way in the beginning of this story, I felt strongly sympathetic towards her and I found myself saying “Yes! YES!” to her during the course of this very readable book. Yes, there is cheating in this story, so if that is a hard limit for you, look away! But that theme was an integral part of this book and vital to Evelyn’s growth.
She’d spent her whole life doing the right thing. That could be someone else’s job now. She was moving on.
I could not put this book down! The synopsis intrigued me. And I loved the complete metamorphosis that Evelyn experienced. This book was at times tragic, funny, sexy and sarcastic. The author’s musings on marriage were sharp and unwavering
Jesus, how had she become this? Her life had been deep and rich and complex once. She’d lived with her single mother and her older sister, and they’d been strong, resilient, quick. She’d taken city buses and negotiated dangerous neighborhoods even as a child, and she’d imagined herself growing into an artist with wild, creative friends who had little money but so much heart.
This was real page-turner, a mature story with mature themes and situations. I loved it!! The conclusion surprised me and was perfectly satisfying. Highly recommend!
From now on, if something was important to her, she would demand it. Because the truth was that she belonged anywhere she wanted to be, and she was beautiful just for being brave.