I had no intention of reading another Sarah Perry book so soon after Melmoth but I accidentally picked up After Me Comes the Flood, Perry’s first novel, then put it back down again. Two weeks later it was still niggling at the back of my mind so I decided just to read it, it didn’t take too long.
The story starts with John driving to his brother’s to escape the city heatwave, his car breaks down and he goes to ask at the nearest (creepy) mansion if they can give him some water for the engine. There is something a bit Scooby Doo about the story line already. John is mistaken for a visitor the household is waiting for but instead of enlightening his hosts he decides to stay for the week. Not a normal course of events.
Here we have a host of mentally unstable characters, who appear to have escaped from an asylum, living together in a rather peculiar fashion. They are thrown at us en masse at the start and it takes a little reading to become clear who is who. I started the book not entirely sure what was going on and finished only slightly more enlightened. In truth, I would have liked more depth to the characters, however, there is something about it that is sticking with me and makes me curious. I can see why it caught a publisher’s attention and if I had read this novel first, it would have made me curious to look at more of Perry’s writing.
And so I did. This book of Short stories looks interesting. It is published by English Heritage and has the interesting premise that eight authors were allowed after hours entrance to their choice of English Heritage site and then used that experience as inspiration to write ghostly short stories which have been collated in this volume. Apart from Sarah Perry, the book also includes work from Kamila Shamsie and Jeanette Winterson.
After listening to Perry on the Bookseller podcast (she has a lovely voice and this is an excellent new podcast) I’m interested in her next book, currently in the making, even though it is supposed to be a Romance. An interesting genre jump from Gothic to Romance. Will it work? We shall see.