Henning Mankell's last novel about an aging man whose quiet, solitary life on an isolated island off the coast of Sweden is turned upside down when his house catches fire.
Fredrik Welin is a former surgeon who retired in disgrace decades earlier to a tiny island on which he is the only resident. He has a daughter he rarely sees, and his mailman, Jansson, is the closest thing he has to a friend and to an adversary. He is perfectly content to live out his days in quiet solitude.
One autumn evening, he is startled awake by a blinding light - only to discover that his house is on fire. With the help of Jansson, he escapes the flames just in time wearing two left boots. Dawn reveals that everything he owns is now a smoldering pile of ash, and his house is destroyed - forcing him to move into an abandoned trailer on his island. A local journalist, Lisa Modin, who wants to write a story about the fire, comes into his life. In doing so, she awakens in him something that he thought was long dead. Soon after, his daughter comes to the island with surprising news of her own. Meanwhile, the police suspect Fredrik of arson because he had a sizable insurance claim on his house. When Fredrik is away from the archipelago, another house goes up in flames, and the community realizes they have an arsonist in their midst.
After the Fire is an intimate portrait of an elderly recluse who is forced to open himself up to a world he'd left behind.
The description of the book is far more interesting than the book itself. It is hard to believe that the story of the after math of an old man having his house burn down could possibly be such slow going. This man has three relationships: one with his daughter, one with a neighbor, and one with a new female acquaintance. He manages to have a non-relationship with all of them. The narrator is a liar and a snoop, and a thoroughly unlikable reprobate.
This book has only one saving grace. If you suffer from insomnia an use listening to books as a way to relax at bedtime, this book is guaranteed to bore you to sleep.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
Those looking for a standard Mankell police procedural may be disappointed with this book, may even find it boring, but it is anything but. I replayed so many sections, that I finally bought the book so that I could read as I listened and then reread. I shall not soon forget Fredrik's transition to 'The place where memory is swallowed up by forgetfulness'.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Made so much more poignant by his passing .
It was an uplifting read in the end but mournful at times . Just a warning ,
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I wanted this to continue.Sorry to have it end. The characters are wonderful, the writing so spare yet detailed. It was like putting on a comfortable sweater. Definitely not fast paced but it didn’t need to be.
What did you love best about After the Fire?
they used a good narrator. The guy was manly and suited the material. So often nowadays the narrators sound either like librarians or very effeminate. If I listen to a Scott Brick I feel like vomiting. He's fake and sentimental. People like that are just bad actors.
Have you listened to any of Sean Barrett’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
Barrett can be a lot more expressive but this book does not really call for it.
Any additional comments?
I bought the audio book to listen to Sean Barrett. The text itself felt like a Bergman movie.