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After the Party: Book review

reviewed by's Steph Zajkowski

It's been eleven years since Ralph and Jem finally became an item at the end of Lisa Jewell's first novel Ralph's Party.

So just over a decade later in After the Party, Jewell takes us back to South London to find out what became of her popular characters.

Well, life happened.  After buying a house and having two children Ralph and Jem's once exciting, romantic relationship has become consumed by responsibility and domestic drudgery. 

Jem's bogged down with motherhood and running a home and just wishes Ralph would help out a bit.

Ralph is not tuned into family life and prefers to spend as much time as possible painting in his studio.

As the relentless demands of ordinary life fill their days, it becomes clear that they have little time for each other.

The love they once shared is parked on a high shelf somewhere, and the relationship they once took for granted is withering away.

Ralph and Jem's story is probably the story of many married couples, which makes it easy to relate to.

However, I'm not sure that I loved Ralph and Jem as people.

Jewell has crafted Jem as a woman with blinkers on, so out of tune with her partner's feelings that when a crisis does unfold, you wonder how she could have missed it coming.

Jewell paints Ralph as creative, virile and sexy, yet I found his petulance and selfishness over-rode my ability to engage with him.

He's a man-child who would rather hide himself away in his attic studio than be part of the family he created. It makes you wonder how Jem has put up with him for so long.

That said, Jewell finds interesting drama in the everyday and turns it into an enjoyable novel that does give you food for thought.

Although this is a sequel, don't be put off if you haven't read Ralph's Party, as After the Party does stand alone.


After the Party by Lisa Jewell
Publisher: Random House
RRP: $38.99
Available: Now