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After - Nikki Gemmell

Hardcover Published: 7th March 2019
ISBN: 9781460753057
Number Of Pages: 304

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What is a good death? A blazingly beautiful memoir of a mother's choice and a daughter's grief.

Australia's bravest and most honest writer explores the devastating aftermath of her elderly mother's decision to end her own life.

Nikki Gemmell's world changed forever in October 2015 when the body of her elderly mother was found and it became clear she had decided to end her own life. After the immediate shock and devastation came the guilt and the horror, for Nikki, her family, relatives and friends. No note was left, so the questions that Elayn's death raised were endless. Was the decision an act of independence or the very opposite? Was it a desperate act driven by hopelessness and anger, or was her euthanasia a reasoned act of empowerment?

After is the story of Elayn Gemmell - and the often difficult, prickly relationship between mothers and daughters, and how that changes over time. As anguished as it truthful, as powerful as it is profound, After is about life, death, elderly parents, mothers and daughters, hurt and healing, and about how little, sometimes, we know the ones we love the most.

A deeply intimate, fiercely beautiful, blazingly bold and important book.

Review by John Purcell

This would have been a very difficult book to write. At times, I must admit, it was a difficult read, too.

Nikki Gemmell started writing this book from the moment of her mother’s death, jotting down her initial reactions on hearing the news. On hearing the news that her mother had ended her own life. On discovering that no note was left. On not knowing if this was her mother’s last act of independence, or a desperate cry for help. This is an extraordinary thing to do as a person, to jot down one’s raw thoughts, however as a writer myself, I understand this urge to do so. Sometimes the only way writers know how they feel is to try and express it.

Death and dying has become a subject more and more writers are attempting to make sense of. This is a bold and honest look at the choice Nikki’s mother makes, but also at the relationship Nikki had with her. A relationship that was often difficult, although which changed over time.

We need books like this. We will all face death at some point, face it in our own way, and reading books like After starts us thinking about something we’d prefer to push aside. I firmly believe this is something we all need to do.



Great read if greiving for a mother who ended her life her way





Enjoyed reading After, but skipped a few pages as they were a little boring.



Beautiful book


This is such a beautiful book. The beginning is stark and shocking but it becomes a delicate analysis of the relationship between mother and daughter. I bought several copies to give to friends who have relationships with their mothers which are special - either difficult and fraught or very loving, deep relationships. I was horrified at the way Nikki's mother spoke to her as a teenager and her lack of affection towards her and marvel how Nikki steadfastly continued to maintain the relationship, particularly towards the end. A side issue is that of euthanasia for which the book has had a lot of publicity but the relationship between mother and daughter is paramount. Beautifully written, as you'd expect. I won't give it to my own mother to read as her situation is very similar to Elayne and I think it may distress her, but I wish I could.



RIP Elayn 🙏💔


Very good



An eye opener!


I'm a big Nikki fan, I'd been waiting for a new book from her for awhile, to say this was NOT what I was expecting would be an understatement, this book was heart wrenching to read, it made me sad, angry & sorry (for Nikki). Reading this book makes you realise how precious life is & how we should pay more attention to each other, even though it's difficult at times. Nikki's mum wasn't always a pleasant person to be around & the expectation that she placed on Nikki was strong, I really hope that writing this book has helped others speak up & out on a very hard topic. I must say it's a must read!

Jimboomba Queensland


I would not recommend this book


Each second paragraph she stops & chooses 5 words to explain one thing as if she's showing off her vocabulary.Which works the opposite and doesn't come across as intelligent as she thinks



A moving and poignant read


Nikki Gemmell is one of my all time favourite authors. I have read almost all of her novels and this is her best so far. Thank you for writing this book, it is a story and a tragic subject that needed to be written about.

Sydney, NSW, Australia


I will re read this book many times


This book discusses euthanasia from a very personal experience but one I think we can all related to. Well done Nikki.

Perth, WA



4.3 8


ISBN: 9781460753057
ISBN-10: 1460753054
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 304
Published: 7th March 2019
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 22.0 x 14.6  x 2.6
Weight (kg): 0.44

Nikki Gemmell

About the Author

Nikki Gemmell has written four novels, Shiver, Cleave, Lovesong, The Bride Stripped Bare and The Book Of Rapture, and one non-fiction book, Pleasure: An Almanac for the Heart. Her work has been internationally critically acclaimed and translated into many languages.

In France she's been described as a female Jack Kerouac, in Australia as one of the most original and engaging authors of her generation and in the US as one of the few truly original voices to emerge in a long time.

The French literary review "Lire" has included her in a list of what it calls the fifty most important writers in the world - the ones it believes will have a significant influence on the literature of the 21st century. The criteria for selection included a very individual voice and unmistakeable style, as well as an original choice of subject. Nikki Gemmell was selected along with such novelists as Rick Moody, Zadie Smith, Jonathan Safran Froer, Rohinton Mistry, Tim Winton, Colum McCann, Michel Faber and Hari Kunzru among others.

Born in Wollongong, Australia, she now lives in London.

Visit Nikki Gemmell's Booktopia Author Page