After Life

Ellis, Rhian

ISBN 10: 1469240076 / ISBN 13: 9781469240077
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Synopsis: For Naomi Ash, growing up the daughter of a clairvoyant medium exposed her to the chicanery of a business where telling people what they want to hear is the only currency. And the sleepy hamlet of Train Line, New York, nestled against a frigid lake in the westernmost fringes of the state, was founded on, built, and is still sustained by it. Now a young woman and a practicing medium herself, Naomi still lives in the place that nourished and raised her ― the place where she fell in love. Love, however, can be deadly. And the secrets behind the fake and the fraud, behind her deepest desires and greatest fears, and behind the lies and truths of her life collide with ferocity and quiet consequence, a profound duality that pervades the past and the present, and crosses the line between the living and the dead.

Review: After Life begins with Naomi Ash dragging her boyfriend's dead body down the stairs. Unpleasant, surely, but not, in a culture as numb to violence as ours, especially shocking. The nasty surprise is that we feel every ounce of skinny Peter Morton's weight, that we worry along with Naomi whether the hole she digs to bury him is big enough: "Once when I was a child I tried burying a dead cat in a hole not big enough for it, and I still cannot forget pushing down on it to make it fit, pressing its head with my trowel. Its ears filled horribly with dirt." That last detail is our signal that we have entered a world every bit as visceral as our own, and possibly every bit as mad. Despite the corpse that lies hidden for the first part of the book, After Life is not a whodunit, not even a "whydunit," but some other beast entirely: a tense exploration of the ties between faith, will, and fakery--and between this world and the next.

For Naomi Ash is a medium, and the daughter of a medium, who lives in a town founded and populated entirely by other mediums. From the beginning, she's been privy to all the tricks of her trade. Growing up in New Orleans, she helped her spiritualist mother by faking spirit voices through fans and, in one case, draping herself in a lace tablecloth as the ghost of a dead child. But what begins in fraud, she tells us, has ended "in something at least close to truthfulness":

I, for one, couldn't always disentangle the real from the fraudulent, the truth from its trappings. Sometimes it seemed as if my mother's fakery was just a more interesting and beautiful version of what was real. Sometimes it seemed that the truth needed the lies, as if there wouldn't be any truth without them. At any rate, whatever my mother was doing, it was a rare and powerful thing, perhaps even a form of magic. It enthralled me.
After their move to Train Line, New York, a fairy tale Victorian village run slightly to seed, Naomi and her mother settle into working Psychic Faires and message services. Then Naomi meets Peter Morton, a graduate student on vacation, and falls in love; 10 years later, she's still paying the price.

First-time novelist Ellis produces lovely prose: "A lonely life is a crime without witnesses, it is a movie playing in a locked theater; can you ever really be sure what happens in it? Can you be sure that it happens at all?" At the same time, this author's writing can be willfully unglamorous: her characters have dirty hair and clothes with stains on them, and their world smells like ours, like fried things and wet earth and dirty lake water. In its mix of the mundane and the magical, After Life gets at some fundamental truths about the dead and those they leave behind. You don't have to believe in the spirit world to understand Naomi's final insight as a medium--or to know just how much it hurts: "He would never be completely gone, but he would never, ever be with me." --Greta Kline

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Bibliographic Details

Title: After Life
Publication Date: 2012
Binding: CD
Book Condition: New

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Ellis, Rhian
Published by Brilliance Audio Lib Edn (2012)
ISBN 10: 1469240076 ISBN 13: 9781469240077
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Book Description Brilliance Audio Lib Edn, 2012. Compact Disc. Book Condition: Brand New. mp3 una edition. 7.25x5.25x0.50 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # 1469240076

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ISBN 10: 1469240076 ISBN 13: 9781469240077
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Book Description Book Condition: Good. After Life: A Novel (Nancy Pearls Book Lust Rediscoveries). Bookseller Inventory # SKU0346928

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