Publication Date: September 17, 2013
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1946, post-World War II Hamburg. While thousands wander the rubble, lost and homeless, Colonel Lewis Morgan, charged with overseeing the rebuilding of this devastated city and the denazification of its defeated people, is stationed in a grand house on the River Elbe. He is awaiting the arrival of his wife, Rachael—still grieving for their eldest son—and their only surviving son, Edmund. But rather than force the owners of the house, a German widower and his rebellious daughter, out onto the streets, Lewis insists that the two families live together. In this charged atmosphere, both parents and children will be forced to confront their true selves as enmity and grief give way to passion and betrayal, to their deepest desires, their fiercest loyalties, and the transforming power of forgiveness.
This courageous new novel from award-winning author Rhidian Brook tells an emotionally riveting story of two families, one house, and love grown from hate.
RHIDIAN BROOK is an award-winning writer of fiction, television, and film. His debut novel The Testimony of Taliesin Jones won the Somerset Maugham Award, a Betty Trask Award, and the Author's Club Best First Novel Award. His stories have appeared in The Paris Review and New Statesman. He lives in London with his wife and two children.
“Rhidian Brook’s arresting novel brings vividly to life a little-told aspect of World War II: its aftermath. His story—energetically and authoritatively told—is unsettling and compelling, suffused with suffering and, mercifully, some hope.” —Claire Messud, author of The Woman Upstairs
“Brook’s masterly novel . . . wrings every drop of feeling out of a gripping human situation, and his vignettes of war-ravaged Hamburg are superb.” —The Mail on Sunday
“Brook’s beautifully written novel ponders issues of decency, guilt, and forgiveness . . . Profoundly moving.” —The Independent
“Reading The Aftermath, one can’t help but wonder if this is the sort of literary memorialization (albeit from a British author) that Sebald might have wished for.” —Washington Post
“Superb . . . Conjuring surprise after surprise as it shows how the forces of politics and history penetrate even the most intimate moments of its characters’ emotional lives . . . The house on the Elbe [is] akin to Hamlet’s Elsinore.” —The Guardian
“A moving, always enthralling journey into the dark and light of history. Rhidian Brook has written a brilliant novel.” —Joseph O’Neill, author of Netherland
“Brook is wonderful at evoking the atmosphere of this forgotten time and place . . . There is much to think about here.” —The Times (London)
“Brook’s excellent novel [is] a captivating tale of love among the ruins but also of treachery and vengeance . . . It does what all good novels should do: it poses many complex questions and resists neat, topped-and-tailed answers.” —Literary Review
“Brook addresses weighty themes—forgiveness, familial loss—with a light touch . . . Brings to mind no less a novel than J.G. Ballard’s Empire of the Sun.” —Financial Times
“Rhidian Brook takes a piece of history I thought I knew well and breaks it open; The Aftermath is a compelling, surprising, and moving novel.” —Sadie Jones, author of The Uninvited Guests