After Story is truly an original and amazing story. It is wonderfully and seamlessly constructed, and riveting reading.
Della is an Aboriginal woman who lives in a tiny town called Frog Hollow. She has had a catastrophic event in her life which she acknowledges she will never get over. Jasmine is her daughter, who has defied all odds and gone to university. Mother and daughter are not particularly close, so it came as a surprise when Jasmine invited her to come on a Literary Tour of England. They were to travel with a professor and a group, visiting homes of the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, Shakespeare Virginia Wolf, and many more.
Each day is written by Della and then by Jasmine, and it is here that the reader will be holding their breath. While Jasmine observes and looks after her mother, she also discusses the merits of the authors with the group. Della who has not read any of the authors listens carefully and has her own thoughts and observations. They are so powerful; they need re reading. For example, near Thomas Hardy’s home was an ancient Druid stone. “Most people don’t even know about the things Aboriginal people built, Della thought”. Many of them were destroyed when the British came. They would rather think of us as backward. It made it easier to take away our children.
At Stratford-upon-Avon, the tour guide said, “No other culture produced a Shakespeare.” Della thought “Well, no other culture produced an Aunty Elaine, and I wondered why people had to make these comparisons.” Aunty Elaine was the storyteller, who passed on knowledge to the younger people. She always knew the appropriate story and the message it was meant to send.
It is quite thrilling to read a chapter looking at the authors and literature from Jasmine, then to be privy to Della’s thoughts about the same experience.
After Story from Larissa Behrendt is pure gold.