This is my review of After You’ve Gone by Joan Lingard.
This skilfully written and well constructed book, with many touches of humour and irony, held my attention to the end which, if fairly predictable, gained depth from leaving intriguing questions unanswered. The use of a real seaman's journal from the 1920s gave an authentic air to the extracts read aloud by the heroine from her husband's letters, which formed the heart of the story – letters which ideally would have bound them together only aroused her sense of dissatisfaction, thwarted ambition and suspicion, to the point at which her husband scarcely seemed to be a real person to whom she could relate and should feel loyalty or love. The interplay between the characters was interesting and the portrayal of working class life in Edinburgh seemed convincing. The moments of joy and pathos in the banality of "ordinary life" came through clearly. The plot had a good pace with some points of real tension. This book contained insights on a par with those found in more self-consciously highbrow literature.