If she tries very hard, Ami can remember when she used to have a dynamic and exciting career and a husband who she loved more than life itself, and who was equally smitten with her…
Now she has two children, a terrifyingly large mortgage, and no idea who she has become – or why she and her husband can’t even be in the same room anymore.
With life as she knew it in tatters around her, Ami is heartbroken, and in no way pulling off ‘consciously uncoupling’ like a celeb. But she’s starting to wonder if she just might come out the other side and be….happier?
‘The Story After Us…’It’s a story for everyone who found out that happy-ever-after had a sequel and for everyone who’s faced irreconcilable differences and survived.
I wanted to write about messy, modern love. I know lots of women whose families don’t look like they belong in a magazine spread but are filled with happiness, humour and hope. I am divorced myself – a long while ago – and good mates and parents with my ex-husband while happily married to my second. I’m a mother and stepmother to four kids and have had a fairly full-on job while they’ve been growing up. Ami’s story isn’t mine, but I hope it’s one that relatable to lots of women – and makes them laugh.
I’ve always written but, in 2012 I signed up for the Curtis Brown Creative writing course with a very rough draft of a novel. I learned loads about great storytelling during the short course and threw away most of my word count. Then, with the help of a spin-off writing group that met every Monday fortnight for years, I wrote it again.
Eventually, I was lucky enough to get the editorial input of my agent, Diana Beaumont, who helped me write it again a few more times. Then Aria wanted to publish it, and everything got really exciting.
The truth is I’ve always wanted to be a novelist, but there was also the day job, the kids and life, like loads of other writers. And I wanted to learn how to get it right, so it took a while. One thing I would say is if you can find a group of supportive writers, sign up, critique their submissions and get all the feedback you can on yours. My group has gone on to have four published writers and with more to come.
My next book has a mad, modern family with a difficult dilemma at its heart. It’s different the second time – I have a lot more certainty about what I’m doing. This time, I’m writing the first draft without going back to edit as I go, because I’ve learned the value of multiple drafts honed over and over. But it’s also because the story is tumbling out…
My Life as a Writer…
There’s still the day job (sales and marketing), but I’m working as a freelance now, so that makes everything a lot easier. And the kids are older and lovely (not that they weren’t, but you know…) and I’ve got a study by the sea at the end of the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall where we are restoring a decaying Edwardian house near the lighthouse. We call it life on the edge because it is (of England) and so far, it’s pretty great.
I type overlooking the lighthouse, the sea and lots of sheep. When the weather is bad (and it’s our own freak microclimate), there is a foghorn that goes off, in a low, melancholy wail. I’m quite fond of it. We call them foghorn days and, very occasionally, we make that the equivalent of a pyjama day and just laze around reading and watching rom coms. I’m a big believer in foghorn days.
Ami is a fighter, whatever life throws at her she faces it, solves it, and then the next obstacle rears up. I am exhausted after reading this. Lars may be the love of her life, but he is an annoying character and even when he eventually tries to do the right thing I still don’t like him much.
Angst and realism underscore this poignant and often amusing story, which moves between the past, Lars and Ami’s love story and the present, what happens when it implodes. I enjoyed the real-time story best because whatever happens in their past, it’s not going to end well.
Ami has to be everything to their children when Lars decides he prefers his work life to his home life. Okay, their financial struggle is relative, not everyone has the luxury of an au pair even an appalling one, but everything falls on Ami’s shoulders first, and she has to juggle her children’s well being, her fledgeling company and her failing marriage.
‘The Story After Us’, is a woman’s view of family, love, marriage and work, it’s an authentic 21st-century story where happy-ever-after doesn’t exist but happy families can.
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Fiona Perrin was a journalist and copywriter before building a career as a sales and marketing director in industry. Having always written, she completed the Curtis Brown Creative Writing course before writing The Story After Us. Fiona grew up in Cornwall, hung out for a long time in London and then Hertfordshire, and now writes as often as possible from her study overlooking the sea at the end of The Lizard peninsula.