after the fall book coverReviewed by Jennifer Jensen

After the Fall by Kylie Ladd is an exploration of how adultery affects the lives and marriages of two couples. Cressida and Luke, a newlywed couple, click well with Cressida’s colleague Cary and his wife Kate. Soon they are having dinners and vacationing together. Both Cressida and Cary seem oblivious to the fact that their spouses, Luke and Kate, are attracted to one another. A humiliating public kiss between Luke and Kate at a friend’s wedding results in Cressida forbidding Luke to ever speak to Kate again. However, Luke and Kate begin seeing one another in secret, unable to uphold their wedding vows, and falling helplessly in love with one another. As Cressida grows interested in advancing her career and Cary wants to start raising a family, Kate offers Luke an ultimatum. Torn between his obligations to his wife and his love for Kate, Luke must make a heartbreaking decision that has the power to either bring them closer to their spouses or alienate them forever.

Perhaps the best thing about this novel for me was that everyone got to have their side of the story made known. Each of the characters alternates giving an intimate first person account of how they fell in and maybe even out of love with one another, and how they dealt with the situation “after the fall”. The chapters were short, but the fragments connected logically without causing any confusion. In addition to the two couples, narratives of some of their closest friends were also thrown into the mix. I didn’t really feel their scenes added much to the novel as a whole and am not really sure why Ladd included them.

Ladd doesn’t really take any sides in her narration, but the readers definitely will. Though none of the four main characters were especially appealing to me; I felt the most sympathy for Cressida and Cary, the spouses on whom Luke and Kate cheated. Most of all I despised Luke, who once referred to Cressida as a trophy wife and was cocky enough to think she would take him back while he still continued his affair with Kate.

Each couple took a different route to recovery after the affair was revealed. Out of all of them, I felt Cressida came out of it more empowered and independent. My heart ached for Cary in the aftermath, but I felt Kate received exactly what she deserved. The ending wasn’t quite as satisfactory as I hoped it would be, as some of their futures still seemed uncertain. Adultery is a complicated sequence of events, but Ladd’s expertise in psychology completely captured how those involved in affairs might think and react.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Doubleday. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.