“After You’ve Gone,” by Jeffrey Lent

At its core, “After You’ve Gone” is a character study of protagonist Henry Dorn, a likable, introverted man whose reflections seem more significant than his actions.

Born in the early 1900s, Henry spent his childhood in a Nova Scotia fishing village. By the time he is 22 he is married to Olivia, a beautiful upper-class woman. He is the father of two daughters and a son and is a respected professor of English at a women’s college in New York state.

The bottom drops out of Henry’s world when Olivia and their son are killed in a car crash. In the throes of bereavement, Henry travels to Holland. The first day of the sea voyage he meets Lydia Pearce, the woman whom he will eventually marry. Only in the hands of a writer of exceptional talent such as Jeffrey Lent could such a plot twist seem not only plausible but inevitable.

The book’s ending is bittersweet. As Lydia climbs the stairs to Henry’s Amsterdam apartment, “Her dress [is] stretched tight over the growing pod of her belly.”

Katherine Bailey, Bloomington

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