At their fifteen-year reunion, a group of Harvard graduates – labouring with early middle age, marriage and children, unrealised aspirations and a depressing political climate – rekindle old loves and old resentments.
Fifteen years after graduating from Harvard, five close friends on the cusp of middle age are still pursuing an elusive happiness and wondering if they’ve wasted their youthful opportunities. Jules, already a famous actor when she arrived on campus, is changing in mysterious ways but won’t share what is haunting her. Mariam and Rowan, who married young, are struggling with the demands of family life and starting to regret prioritising meaning over wealth in their careers. Eloise, now a professor who studies the psychology of happiness, is troubled by her younger wife’s radical politics. And Jomo, founder of a luxury jewellery company, has been carrying an engagement ring around for months, unsure whether his girlfriend is the one.
The soul searching begins in earnest at their much-anticipated college reunion weekend on the Harvard campus, when the most infamous member of their class, Frederick – senior advisor and son of the recently elected and loathed US president – turns up dead.
Old friends often think they know everything about one another, but time has a way of making us strangers to those we love – and to ourselves.
In our Q&A with South African born Australian writer Ceridwen Dovey, she said she was first inspired to write her new novel after attending her own fifteen-year college reunion at Harvard University. “There’s this amazing dramatic structure built into our lives as college graduates who are invited to return to campus every five years”, says Dovey. “It becomes this built-in ritual, as time passes, to take stock of who we once were, and who we are now.”
This theme of self-reflection is certainly present throughout Life After Truth, which follows each of the five old Harvard blockmates as they try to come to terms with their previous selves – bright eyed, idealistic Harvard-educated students with the world at their feet – and their current selves: Middle-aged, wearied and weighed down by careers, kids, finances and relationship issues. The conflict between the characters’ inner lives, and those lives they choose to present to their peers is also at the heart of the novel, and Dovey captures all of this with honesty, wit and insight.
Clever, thought-provoking and exquisitely written, Life After Truth is a truly compelling read, and I can’t wait to see what Ceridwen Dovey delivers next.