#aww2020 · 2020 Reviews · Australian · contemporary fiction · new release

Book Review: After Goodbye by Teena Raffa

Title: After Goodbyeafter goodbye small

Author:  Teena Raffa

Published: March 8th 2020

Publisher: Daisy Lane Publishing

Pages: 350

Genres: Fiction, Contemporary

She can choose to stay mired in yesterday’s regrets – or do what she can to create a brighter tomorrow for them all.

It’s the 1980s but feminism has passed Stella by and her sole focus is being the best wife and mother she can be. Her husband Daniel’s shock announcement that their marriage is over casts her adrift.

Stella has to rethink everything she believed about herself and their life. The future she imagined of growing old together is not to be and she has no idea what will replace it.

Meeting a stranger at the seashore where she goes to seek solace takes her in an unexpected direction. Free spirit Chris introduces her to a different perspective on life – and the possibility their friendship can become something deeper.

As Stella’s life opens up, Daniel’s choice doesn’t deliver the freedom he expected.

Will she find it in her heart to offer compassion and support to the father of her children? She can choose to stay mired in yesterday’s regrets – or do what she can to create a brighter tomorrow for them all.

Review:

‘Only ten-forty. Unbelievable. Goodbye happy marriage, help breakup in just a few hours. It didn’t make sense.’

After Goodbye is a contemporary fiction title by West Australian author Teena Raffa. A story of second chances, love, family life, friendship, separation, infidelity, divorce and new beginnings, After Goodbye sits comfortably in the domestic fiction field.

After Goodbye is situated in the 1980s, a time where women were really starting to appreciate the benefits of feminism. But for Stella, the lead of Teena Raffa’s story, life as homemaker for her husband Daniel and two children has been her priority. However, things come crashing down for Stella when her husband declares his love for an eighteen year old co-worker. Stella is bereft, as she had no idea that Daniel was unhappy in their marriage. It takes some time as Stella grieves the loss of her marriage and life with Daniel. She must learn to live independently as a single mother, providing for her two children and embracing a new career. As Stella begins to take steps to reclaim her life, she is acquainted with a very different man to Daniel. Chris has an alternative take on the world and Stella find solace in his free approach to life. As Stella leans on Chris for friendship and support, something else seems to spark between the two. Meanwhile Daniel, Stella’s ex is struggling to cope with his new life when an unexpected set of circumstances arise. As Stella and Daniel both negotiate their changed life paths, they must each learn to embrace the situations that have been cast for them in order to achieve a sense of inner peace.

Having come across Teena Raffa’s children’s books previously, I was interested in her current foray in the field of adult contemporary fiction. After Goodbye is a life literature based title, set in the 1980s, an era I look to very fondly. I was looking forward to seeing how Raffa would illuminate this time period in the context of her second chance style domestic fiction release. On the whole this was a novel that had me quite conflicted.

The pain of an unexpected breakup that rips apart a marriage and family unit opens this novel. The raw reality and utter devastation of this revelation by the husband figure of the tale both broke my heart and earned my ire. This one really hit a raw nerve for me, it was very close to home and it took me back to a time I would rather forget. Raffa explores the ins and outs of a marital separation. Raffa also looks at the stages of grief following the demise of a long standing relationship. I found this aspect of the novel to be emotional and realistic. My heart did go out to Stella and her children in these sequences.

The knight in shining armour in this novel comes in the form of Annie, Stella’s close friend. Annie is like a breath of fresh air and whenever she came on the scene I felt a soothing presence from her support. The friendship between the two women is clearly strong and this is evident from the interactions between Stella and Annie as the book progresses. I actually would have liked Annie to have more page time, she was far more agreeable in comparison to the other characters.

Raffa does a good job of outlining her characters, but there was a real good versus bad characters vibe in this story. I couldn’t stand Daniel and his eighteen year old love interest Colleen at all, they just had no morals and they were so selfish! When Stella forms a friendship with a man named Chris this is when my interest in the novel seemed to dip. I didn’t care for Chris at all, I didn’t get him and his new age musings. I also really hated Chris for both his relationship betrayal and for going on his disappearing act. Stella was already hurt and didn’t more upset!

The lead character really perplexed me and my opinion of Stella morphed as the events of this story unfolded. In the first instance I felt deep empathy for Stella, as I have witnessed firsthand what Stella went through, so it was easy to feel sorry for her. I admired Stella for building a new life for herself. However, Stella makes some terrible choices that had me shouting at her and almost throwing the book across the room! I really don’t want to divulge too much in regards to this area, but the mind boggles. By the end things are ironed out and there is an attempt to deliver a happily ever after for the cast.

So all in all, After Goodbye was a mixed bag read for me. I was at odds many times over with the characters and their behaviour, as well as responses. However, After Goodbye is a good female friendship story and a revealing domestic relations title.

After Goodbye by Teena Raffa was published on March 8th 2020 by Daisy Lane Publishing. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

For more information on Teena Raffa, check out her website here.

*I wish to thank Daisy Lane Publishing for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

After Goodbye is book #86 of the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge

4 thoughts on “Book Review: After Goodbye by Teena Raffa

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