I first heard about Sarah Perry, because of her bestseller, The Essex Serpent, and the rave reviews it got in my Twitter-feed. So obviously, it became part of my to-be-bought-list (yes, I have one of those and it tallies at over 200 books at the moment, with more and more getting added almost every day – I might have a problem).
Recently I heard that her debut novel, After me comes the flood, which was released back in 2014, would finally be released in Germany. So I just had to read it. The blurb sounded interesting and a little mysterious. It sounded right up my alley. A man called John decides one hot summer day to leave his life in London behind and visit his brother. On his way, his car breaks down and he finds this grand house. The people living there seem to expect him and even know his name. The blurb even asks, who are these people? And what have they planned with John?
Well, if the book had only been as interesting as the blurb. First of all, the last question never gets answered. So the most mysterious part, the most intriguing part for me, is not even a part of the book. You do get to know the people living in this house, though, and also why they know John or think they know John. It’s all not very interesting, unfortunately. I don’t know if it was the writing or the story or a combination of both, but I fell asleep reading. I never fall asleep reading, especially not in the middle of a sentence. After me comes the flood made me do that.
The story is not very eventful, which is fine in principle, but then a book needs mesmerising and interesting characters. This book did not have that. John, the main character, who’s perspective takes us through the story, is quite boring and unlikable. The residents of the house weren’t that much different. I think, I know what Sarah Perry wanted this novel to be. A commentary on the people ostracised by our society for being mentally unstable, mentally ill or just plain different. I appreciate her for that, but it just didn’t work for me.
Especially after an incident that involved a little boy and Alex, the young man, who has each of the residents under his spell and sometimes feels like a bit of a cult leader. It was never explicitly said what happened and Alex can’t even remember, but at some point the boy’s mother and John think it might be something inappropriate along the lines of paedophilia. The other people in the house, besides John, immediately trust that Alex did nothing wrong and are very dismissive of the mother. Sure, she fell asleep on the beach and her son went away with Alex, but still. It was just such a bizarre storyline and it wasn’t handled in a good way, in my opinion.
Overall, After me comes the flood was a very disappointing read and not really a book I would recommend. I think, I want to give Sarah Perry another try, though, and pick up The Essex Serpent or her new release Melmoth eventually. They just popped on the bottom of my priority list after reading this book.
How about you? Have you read After me comes the flood or any other book by Sarah Perry? Did you enjoy them? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.