After You’ve Gone
Jeffrey Lent, Atlantic Monthly Press, March 10, 2009, $24.00, HC, 272 pp. 978-0-87113-894-1.
After You’ve Gone takes place at the beginning of the twentieth century and spans a number of years in the life of Henry Dorn. It takes place where he grew up in Nova Scotia, and follows his travels to New York and Amsterdam. Henry Dorn’s life is radically changed one day when his wife Olivia, and son Robert are tragically killed in an automobile accident. Olivia is the love of Henry’s life and with death he carries unbearable grief. Robert and he have had a strained relationship, unable to communicate, neither able to understand the other. Robert has returned from war addicted to morphine, full of self pity and no motivation. Henry’s last conversation with his son was a disaster. When he realizes his two daughters are too busy to include him in their lives, he withdraws making plans to travel. He chooses Amsterdam where he decides he will research his heritage.
While there he meets Lydia Pierce, independent and confident, happy to be single and free to come and go as she pleases. It is a new age, where women are venturing out on their own. The plot is somewhat predictable as Henry falls in love with Lydia. However, this is not the full story, nor is it the end.
Jeffrey Lent again demonstrates his storytelling finesse. The language is breathtakingly rich, the characters are crafted with finite detail and the ending is anyone’s guess. Although somewhat slow reading at the beginning, the story soon picks up momentum. Reading anything by Jeffrey Lent is a sensual gift to savor. After You’ve Gone is no exception, a love story that will leave a lingering imprint.