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Book review: After Story by Larissa Behrendt

Larissa Behrendt’s After Story included some of my favourite bookish elements – travel, relationships and culture.

After Story centres on an Indigenous mother and daughter who take a literary tour of England.

Here, two cultures sit uncomfortably side-by-side as the daughter, Jasmine, and her mother, Della, learn about the English canon while grappling with how their own culture is often dismissed.

I really enjoyed the thoughtfulness with which Behrendt addressed these two cultures, which were both treated with honesty and respect. The beauty of each culture took centrestage as Jasmine admired the rich and impressive culture of the UK, while her mother highlighted the wisdom and wealth of Australian Indigenous culture.

In the very best way, this novel was a book of reconciliation and connection that was in no way heavy handed or condescending.

Much of the novel is also about the mother-daughter relationship, which is also treated with great gentleness, while also recognising the complexities of the relationship between two generations. The two have quite a prickly relationship, but also a tenderness and concern about each other, despite a long-held inability to communicate their thoughts and feelings.

Another element I loved was the tour of England and the various literary facts interwoven through the story.

I highly recommend this beautiful novel to anyone interested in reading about family, literature and culture.

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