Between Before and After, by Jessica Stilling: #BookReview.

If you’re seeking an emotional see-saw you could no better than try this book. The ups and downs are so beautifully handled, and the characters so wonderfully drawn, I was engaged from the very beginning, and remained so to the end.
On the surface, this is the story of a filmmaker, one of the ‘arty’ types, making a film in Paris, based on his award-winning mother’s memoirs. But it is so much more than that. It took me back to the short time I visited the city, so full of references I recognised and moods I’d encountered. Coincidentally, I also read this book a short time after reading about the exploits of another author seeking funding for his own book; a story that detailed the difficulties with the money side of filmmaking. I was fascinated to compare the two experiences and learn that this is not an art form for the faint-hearted.
The story is written from the filmmaker’s point of view both in the present, as the film is being made, and in a series of intervening chapters giving his first-hand accounts of the events leading up to the filming and the denouement. As a novel, it deals with the relationships, secrets, loves, desires, hopes, and disasters occurring in small family groups that interact with each other. There is betrayal here, intrigue, romance, honesty and its obverse, deception aimed at others and at the self.
It is also an expose of the nature of wealth and power and their deeply corruptive force. Friendship and love, filial, romantic, and material, are examined and displayed with all their concomitant failures and blessings.
The consequences of lies told either from a desire to protect the innocent or a need to protect the liar are laid open on the page in visceral detail.
An essential element of fiction for me is the ability to empathise with at least one character. In this book I felt with and for many of the main players.
It’s a deeply disturbing, beautifully written, uplifting, and completely engaging story.

I wrote this review based on a copy the author sent me.

[Any review is a personal opinion. No reviewer can represent the view of anyone else. The best we can manage is an honest reaction to any given book.]

6 thoughts on “Between Before and After, by Jessica Stilling: #BookReview.

    1. Glad it was useful, Lynette. It’s actually the last review I’ll be doing from books offered, as I have a fairly lengthy TBR list of my own and I’m finding my time to read is reducing due to my writing wishes. I’ll still review books, but only those I’ve selected personally. This last one is definitely worth the read.

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