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After She Wrote Him

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Member Reviews

I found the premise of the book to be very interesting. The writing style was well paced and the characters had great depth. But, there was a lot of tongue-in-cheek ego stroking by the writer that made it difficult to get through this book.
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After She Wrote Him is one of the most unique novels I have ever read. The story is about mystery author Madeline and literary author Edward writing stories about each other. The question is, who is the real author and who is the character?

The plot was complex and very well written. The characters were fully developed and felt real. There are two points of view, each told in the third person and each POV change was seamless. I enjoyed the glimpse into the writing process as both authors were writing the other's story. Some may not like the ending, but I had no qualms with it. 

Thank you to Poisoned Pen Press, author Sulari Gentill, and NetGalley for gifting me an e-copy in exchange for my honest review.
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Calling this the most unique novel I’ve ever read would be the understatement of a century. I’m so glad I did.

The Pros: What worked for me

This novel is one of those that could be brilliant or a complete disaster. Thankfully, it was the former. The way the author would switch from one narrative to another was seamless, until it got to a point where I didn’t know whose narrative I was reading – WHICH IS THE ENTIRE POINT!

The story has an actual plot and the author balances this well. Both writers are going through their own individual stories while also having this shared experience. All I can say is – it works.

Both main characters balanced each other out with their distinct styles and personalities. I think the author made a smart move by using a mystery writer and a literary fiction author because they brought 2 different experiences to this novel and were able to grow through their interactions.

The Cons: What I didn’t like

I didn’t feel the male perspective was as strong as it could be; there were times when Edward’s individual scenes didn’t fully fit with the image of him that was projected when he interacted with Madeleine. It took away from the believability a tiny bit because it didn’t always feel like it was the same character

I’m torn about the ending. It makes sense why this was the chosen path but I don’t know if I liked it.

This novel is like no other. It is a difficult one to write a review on because I worry about saying too much and ruining the experience for others. All I can say is that I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of intense thrillers. Despite having a couple of cons, I loved this novel enough that I’m giving this 5/5 stars.
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***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press!***

The synopsis of this book appealed to me right away. As someone who fashions themselves an amateur writer, I was drawn into the idea of an author writing a character who is also writing about her as a character. Or is it the other way around? That premise did not disappoint. I can honestly say I have never read a novel so ingeniously written. I could not tell which one was the character and which was the author. And ultimately it didn’t really matter, the two were so intertwined that their fates depended on each other. Maddie would tell a bit of her story and then sit down to write Ned’s story, and his story picks up from there until he sits down to write about Maddie. It was perfectly executed.

Some elements of the plot were very predictable. I knew right away who the killer was in Ned’s story and I knew right away who the bad guy was in Maddie’s story. But even this was intentional I think. It’s supposed to be obvious, to the author, what the answers are. The author knows who the killer is. The author knows who the bad guy is. In that way, the reader was supposed to know these things too. Maddie and Ned didn’t know, because that’s real life. It’s always easy to point out the killer in a book. It’s not so easy when that person is someone close to you. That was one of the themes of the book that was executed perfectly.

The only thing I wished had been done differently was the ending. We spent a lot of time getting to know Maddie and Ned but their respective stories didn’t really get moving until we had about fifty pages to go. The ending seemed rushed and a bit unfinished. Neither of them got a resolution because their respective author was unavailable to finish the story. That ending might appeal to some readers but it detracted from the overall story a bit for me.
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After She Wrote Him
by Sulari Gentill

Poisoned Pen Press

Poisoned Pen Press
 General Fiction (Adult) 
  Mystery & Thrillers 
Pub Date 07 Apr 2020 

I am reviewing a copy of After She Wrote Him through Poisoned Pen Press and Netgalley:

If you find yourself getting lost in a book, make sure you are able to find your way back.

 Madeline D’Leon had no idea where Edward Came from, all she knows is he is a character in her next book.  As she begins to write, all Madeline can think about is Edward.    She thinks about his charm, his dark hair, and him writing his latest literary novel.

Edward  McGinnity is unable to keep Madeline out of his mind.  Her soft smile, her infectious enthusiasm and the fact that she is perfectly damaged.  In his mind she would make the perfect heroine for his next book.

But the big question is who is the author, and who is the creation.  As the line starts to blur who is affected when a killer takes flesh.

After She Wrote Him is an inventive murder mystery, with a bit of a twist.  This book takes readers on a journey filled with passion, obsession.  And the emptiness left behind when reality starts to fall away.

I give After She Wrote Him five out of five stars!

Happy Reading!
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i enjoyed this. it's beautiful and skillfully written, almost in a manner so engaging that one might find themselves lost between who wrote who. and the mystery 😫😫, brilliant.
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Hmmm, I have such mixed thoughts on this intriguing novel. While the premise could not be more original, I found myself not completely satisfied with the entirety of the story. Perhaps my mind just isn't ready for such a complex and thought-provoking story line. Regardless, I am so glad to have read such a book. 

Thank you Netgalley for my copy of this book. My review is given voluntarily.
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This book wasn't for me unfortunately.  I appreciate the opportunity to read it but was unable to finish it.
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The writing in this novel is very beautiful and well-written; the characters seem to jump off the page. I had to read this novel very slowly and carefully in order not to miss any small important detail. I was not as invested as I could have been, there were limited excitable moments. The reader is left to question what is real, what is part of the narrative, and is left with more questions than answers in this novel. At the end of the novel, I still was not sure who the real writer was and who the character was. I think Gentill meant for the reader to draw their own conclusions of who are the writer and the character. Parts of After She Wrote Him dragged on and I had a hard time concentrating in these moments. I would have liked for this novel to delve deeper into the metafiction/philosophical aspect this novel seemed to want to explore towards to end but this ultimately lost its impact for me.
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“What if you wrote of someone writing of you? In the end, which of you would be real?”

Maddie d’Leon is a lawyer turned mystery writer who is moving away from her successful series to write a new crime novel featuring the writer Edward McGinnity. Or maybe, Edward McGinnity is a writer who has started a new book featuring Maddie d’Leon. Each author writes their character into a precarious situation. Edward is implicated in the murder of an art critic. Maddie becomes obsessed with her writing, and Edward, to the point that her marriage is threatened. But wait, one of those situations must be real and not written, mustn’t it?

I won’t pretend that this book wasn’t confusing at times. Ultimately, it’s up to the reader to figure out which of these people is real and which is imagined. And of course they are both imagined by Sulari Gentill. All very meta and very unique and creative. It was fun reading this book and I would read more by this author, although it looks like this isn’t her usual style. 

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
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This book was such a unique premise- definitely a must read if you are tired of the same old books!!
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Wow.  This was a mind blowing, twisty read.  It was very cleverly written and hard to put down.  
Many thanks to Poisoned Pen Press and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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After She Wrote Him by Sulari Gentill was previously released in 2017 as Crossing The Lines and won Australia's premier crime-writing award, The Ned Kelly Award for Best Fiction in 2018.

It's very very clever. And... as I said on Twitter when I was part-way through, it's also a huge mindf*ck.

"What if you wrote of someone writing of you? In the end, which of you would be real?"

If you read the blurb you assume you're going into this reading about an author Madeleine, writing about another author, Edward. Things quickly change however... because Edward is (in fact) writing about a crime writer Madeleine; so though it sounds as if it will be a simple case of an author becoming too attached to her lead character, it's much more than that.

If you're ridiculously logic-loving like moi you will spend far more time than you should analysing the phrasing and characters to try to get it clear in your mind: who exactly is the writer; and who is the character. Of course it's one thing to try to analyse which writer (because both Edward and Madeleine's books are about writers - about each other in fact) is writing the narrative unfolding before us. But then you add in the fact that one of them might be writing about a character who IS in fact writing about their author.... well then... *head explodes*

And then of course it's all fiction because we know this is written by Gentill... author of the popular Rowland Sinclair mystery series (which I've bizarrely not read).

Gentill does an excellent job of creating our two leads, who are both very real and likeable. And I love the way Edward, for example, describes how he introduces characters' names into his book (and Madeleine's world) - using the names of people he knows. So, the same character pops up in both 'books'. Which is only the start of Gentill's clever plot-traversing prose. 

"Shivering, Madeleine rubbed her arms as Edward placed his jacket over Willow's shoulders...."

Gentill also creates a world around them in which their respective loved one (Madeleine's husband and Edward's married BFF Willow) seem to be acting strangely. Deceptively almost. It means both Madeleine and Edward are forced to ponder if they're being duped by them or becoming paranoid. The latter of course is exacerbated by concerns of others about their attachment to each other in their fictional worlds.

There's so much depth here. There's the obvious - as explained by Edward:

"It's an exploration of an author's relationship with her protagonist, an examination of the tenuous line between belief and reality, imagination and self, and what happens when that line is crossed.

He was fascinated by the notion of a story truly told by both the writer and the protagonist. Perhaps this was the partnership that all writers sought, that he had never before completely achieved."

And of course that fine line between imagination and delusion isn't limited to authors and their characters. 

Because she's writing about authors Gentill also touches on the genre-fiction (crime fiction here) vs literary fiction 'debate'. She'll never be considered a literary author, Madeline advises, as they're all stick-thin...

"you must look as though you've been so consumed by your art that you've forgotten to eat for at least a few weeks, that you (have) been started into clarity."

The control freak in me was probably a little let down at the end - in both stories. There's closure, but there isn't, if that makes sense.

Ultimately though it didn't matter as this is a really thought-provoking book by Gentill. And timely as I just read an interview with Val McDermid about talking to her characters and attempted to watch The Silence of the Marsh ion Netflix. (I loved the idea but really couldn't get into it!).

4.5 stars

** I read this via Kindle app so haven't been able to include page numbers in my quotes.
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At first, AFTER SHE WROTE HIM, played out in my mind as follows:

So, Edward is a male writer who creates a female character for his book named Madeline--who creates a male protagonist for her book named Edward--who is, well, also a writer who breathes life into a female protagonist for his book named Madeline who is also a writer...

Wait. What?!

'...fascinating that a writer writing about a writer who is creating yet another writer could keep her head straight.'- Barbara Peters, Executive Editor for AFTER SHE WROTE HIM


Yeah, I would have to agree!

As I delved into the novel, AFTER SHE WROTE HIM, I started to feel like I had entered the literary version of the Droste effect. I soon discovered the commonality in the intertwined narratives is essentially a writer who, through pen and ink, breathes life into their protagonist, who also happens to be a writer, then rinse and repeat, right?

'The only question is, who is the author and who is the creation?’

In closing, much like a child presented with a nesting doll, I eagerly awaited the discovery of the secret within the layers as I forged ahead, and I admittedly was not disappointed in the mystery within the mystery within.

Thank you, NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press, for loaning me an advance eBook of AFTER SHE WROTE HIM in exchange for an honest review.
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4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Netgalley and Poisoned Pen Press for the digital ARC I received in exchange for an honest review.

Madeleine  d'Leon  is a successful cozy mystery writer. Her Veronica Killwilly series is sch a hit she is in talks about turning it into a television series.  She is bored with it though so she sets out to start a ew mystery. The more she writes about Edward McGinnity the more real he becomes to her, in fact he begins to take on a life of his own.

I really enjoyed this novel and thought it would be a five star novel until the end. Now, just because I found the ending to be lacking the amount of satisfaction I was looking for I do believe that many will enjoy the whole book  and will love the ending. It just wasn't my cup of tea, This is sooooooo worth a read! This is not just a mystery but a bit of love story as well.
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“After She Wrote Him” Sulari Gentill is a story of a writer, a mystery writer, and the characters who come to life on the pages of her book. Madeleine d’Leon was a lawyer. She had always wanted to be a writer, and so she wrote a book, this book. In fact, this is a book within a book, the one she is writing and the one about her writing the book, and readers experience both. The author and the characters she writes weave in and out blurring the distinction between a book of fiction and the fiction in a book. Characters talk to each other and talk about each other. They discuss characters that should be introduced by the writer, and then those characters suddenly appear in written scenes. Readers follow one person who is created by another person and interact with both, wondering who is guiding and who is following.
Gentill puts readers right into the process of writing and creating a mystery, choosing victims, planting clues, and uncovering perpetrators.  The silent walls between reader, writer, and characters crash down.   This is a new type of narrator, not unreliable, but in fact doing exactly what is written; it is the writer who is unreliable. I received a review copy of “After She Wrote Him” from Sulari Gentill and Poisoned Pen Press.  It does require some attention to detail to remember the role of each character, but it was stimulating, unpredictable, and unique.
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For someone to be able to be so inventive, you have to be a genius. For the first few pages I did not quite get it.
Madeline is an author, quite a successful one. She is now branching into a new character and a new kind of genre in her writing. Edward is the main character - gentle and kind. Madeline's marriage is already under some stress - multiple miscarriages, lack of communication and a husband who is just busy. Madeline is left on her own with her imagination and her books (this situation she is extremely happy with). She merges into the books and the characters become part of her where when you read you have to keep reminding yourself that Edward is a character ONLY in a book, not a flesh and blood person at all.

I've read Sulari Gentill's books where Rowland Sinclair overwhelmed me with his antics! I also like that the author is of Sri Lankan origin and I get to read one of her best sellers. This book left me so overwhelmed that at the end I had to stop and think - how much of invention went into the story and how it affected Madeline herself so badly. 

This was a tantalizing read.
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Unfortunately, this was not a book for me. It started out pretty interesting and then it began to drag. I also became confused about who was writing who. I’ve put this on my “try again” shelf.
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This was completely outside my normal genre, but it sounded so fascinating I had to request it.

After She Wrote Him explores line between the writer and the written. Madeleine d’Leon is a crime writer, and Edward McGinnity is author of literary fiction. They are each other’s main character. As we progress through the novel it becomes less clear who is writing whom. 

I thought it was easy to read, and even though it jumped back and forth between the two main characters (in third person limited), I had no problems working out who I was following. That being said, I wasn’t super invested in the characters, so I struggled to go back to it when I put it down.

Initially I thought After She Wrote Him was fascinating, and it was kind of this  philosophical-meta… thing. But as the lines continued to blur, I found myself feeling off kilter. This amazing concept was morphing into something completely different to what I was expecting, and things were getting decidedly weird about half way through.

And that ending. I really disliked it. I went into this book with few expectations, and perhaps I should have anticipated what was going to happen much sooner. Instead, I felt a mounting sense of foreboding, right up to the big reveal. And I was not a fan. I cannot say anything without spoilers, but it is one of two things I truly despise in stories, whether in books or tv or movies. It makes me angry and uncomfortable and disappointed. 

I know that there is definitely a market for stories like this. It’s sort of a psychological, philosophical, literary crime thriller. But this book was not for me, and I am still feeling quite bitter about it.
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This inventive literary novel uses mystery fiction conventions to explore the line between writers and their creations. 
Madeleine, an Australian cozy author, is writing about Ned, a literary writer who gets entangled in a murder investigation.  Ned, at the same time, is writing about Madeleine, a mystery author struggling with an unsatisfying marriage. Whatever we read about one character is written by the other. The lines blur as each becomes obsessed with the other's story. They talk to each other, advise each other.  In Madeleine's side of the story, the relationship crosses into sexual intimacy, although Ned seems unaware that this has happened. When Madeleine's husband suggests that she needs psychiatric treatment, the reader may be inclined to agree.

The artifice is everything in this novel. Madeleine and Ned are minimally intriguing, and the murder investigation is constantly undercut by reminders that it's just something Madeleine is making up as she goes along. Interest is generated by the interweaving of "real" and invented details. This is above all a book about the writing process and the way it works through and on the writer's mind. 

The conclusion is abrupt and brutal. Readers hoping for a happy ending for the characters will have to write it themselves.

(After She Write Him was originally published in Australia as Crossing the Line.)
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