Longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction
Longlisted for the Guardian Not the Booker Prize
Shortlisted for the Waverton Good Read Award
“That was the day that Mama made the rules: If they come, run. Be quiet and run. But not together. Never together. If one is found, at least the other survives….”
During a cold, British winter, three women reach crisis point. Emily, an immigrant survivor of the Rwandan genocide is existing but not living. Vera, a newly Christian Londoner is striving to live a moral life, her happiness constantly undermined by secrets from her past. Lynn, battling with an untimely disease, is consumed by bitterness and resentment of what she hasn’t achieved and what has been snatched from her.
Each suffering their own demons, their lives have been torn open by betrayal: by other people, by themselves, by life itself. But as their paths interweave, they begin to unravel their beleaguered pasts, and inadvertently change each other’s futures.
Shortlisted for the 2015 Waverton Good Read Award
In 2014 Jemma spoke to the BBC’s Nick Higham about After Before, which is partly set in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. The book focuses on a fictional survivor of the atrocities – who is now working as a carer in London – as her life becomes intertwined with two fellow women battling their own experiences of betrayal.
Rich, haunted, gripping, painful and beautifully entwined
A powerful novel. Its characters will haunt you long after their stories have been told.
A fearless and meticulously observed examination of pain transformed by the redeeming power of friendship.
Cosy domestic scenes in suburban London, brilliantly described, are used to contrast with experiences of absolute horror at the heart of a deep and shaming secret. For life to move on, all must be forgiven, no matter how difficult this may be.
Jemma Wayne has very skilfully managed to weave together not only the alternating strands of her compelling narrative but also passages of intense action with reflective inner monologue. A highly accomplished debut!
An accomplished, brave first novel.