After the Party is a very interesting novel written in 2018 by British journalist and author Cressida Connolly. When I read the introduction, I started turning the pages, wondering what would happen after the party. After a while, when I talked about the book with my friend, who gave me the book as a gift, she said that there was no big event after the party and that the issue was independent of the party. After that, I started reading the book a little more carefully and was very surprised by what I learned.
After the Party made me see how disconnected Britain’s privileged were from the public. The characters in the book lived in such isolation from real life that they were not even aware that the party they supported was a fascist party. So at least Phyllis, whose story we read, didn’t even understand why she was put in jail. As soon as I finished the book, I read what I found about the British League of Fascists, and after that, I understood better what happened in the book. Thanks to After the Party, I learned a part of the history of England.
After the Party is a novel that makes you think a lot about the character of Phyllis. Is this woman really a fascist, is she ignorant because she doesn’t see anyone outside her class, is she naive, or is she cruel enough to do anything to preserve her privileges? I found my thoughts constantly changing as the author put layer upon layer upon the character.
Aside from the privileged upper-class’ lives in isolation from everything, After the Party also explains the family relations very well. Phyllis’ highly troubled relationship with her sisters and her husband made me feel sorry for her. I couldn’t help but wonder if people could really be that cruel in some parts. The story told by Phyllis in different periods is neither too exciting nor too still. It will finish in a sitting as it is short. I think you might like it, especially if you are interested in fascism in Britain. Enjoy!
After the Party
‘I always wanted to be friends with both my sisters. Perhaps that was the source, really, of all the troubles of my life…’
After the Party: It is the summer of 1938 and Phyllis Forrester has returned to England after years abroad. Moving into her sister’s grand country house, she soon finds herself entangled in a new world of idealistic beliefs and seemingly innocent friendships. Fevered talk of another war infiltrates their small, privileged circle, giving way to a thrilling solution: a great and charismatic leader, who will restore England to its former glory.
At a party hosted by her new friends, Phyllis lets down her guard for a single moment, with devastating consequences. Years later, Phyllis, alone and embittered, recounts the dramatic events which led to her imprisonment and changed the course of her life forever.
‘Wonderfully subtle and compelling’ Linda Grant
‘Uncanny, evocative, atmospheric’ Sunday Times
‘Connolly is a terrifically subtle writer… [she] slyly sweeps her readers into the period drama as tensions tauten between families and social classes’ Daily Telegraph
‘Wonderful, tragicomic… beautifully researched’ The Times
Connolly grew up in Sussex. She is the only daughter of the critic and writer Cyril Connolly (died 26 November 1974). Her mother, Deirdre Levi, is the widow of the poet and writer Peter Levi (died 1 February 2000). Connolly was the first wife (1982–1983) of The Sunday Times critic and writer A. A. Gill (died 10 December 2016). She married Worcestershire petal farmer Charles Hudson in 1985; the couple have three children.Connolly has written book reviews and occasional journalism for Vogue, The Spectator, The Times, The Oldie, Literary Review, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian. Her interview subjects have included the writers Maya Angelou, Alice Munro, Michael Ondaatje and Elizabeth Strout.
She has written, curated and lectured on Ladybird Books, and appeared on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Television, talking about her collection and the artists whose work illustrated the books and whom she befriended. Her introduction of Ladybird artist Harry Wingfield to The New Art Gallery, Walsall led to an exhibition and to the acquisition of the artist’s studio.
Connolly is the author of a collection of short stories, The Happiest Days, which won the PEN Macmillan Award; a biography of the Garman family, The Rare and The Beautiful; and a novel, My Former Heart, which won a special commendation from the Society of Authors. Her second novel, After the Party, was selected as a Waterstones Book of the Month and shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize in 2019.
Connolly was interviewed by Mariella Frostrup about her novel After the Party for Open Book on Radio 4 and the novel was selected on Radio 4’s A Good Read. In 2020, Connolly was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: