Book review: After Helen

After Helen is a moving look at love, loss and the challenges of parenthood.

After Helen

Paul Cavanagh

Not That London, ebook €3.92

The story focuses on an unassuming history teacher, Irving, who is coming to terms with the recent death of his enigmatic wife, Helen, while also attempting to parent his increasingly wild daughter, Severn.

Author Paul Cavanagh jumps back in time every alternate chapter, so that the reader witnesses the early days of Irving and Helen’s relationship and the circumstances in which they had their daughter, and this device increases the poignancy.

While a constantly changing narrative can sometimes feel disorientating, here it works incredibly well, with the contrast creating suspense and anticipation, as well as giving insight into the complex motivations of each of the characters.

An absorbing and deeply touching debut, After Helen is a whirlwind of a novel that, once started, is incredibly difficult to put down.


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