Your Preview Verdict: Life After Truth by Ceridwen Dovey

Your Preview Verdict: Life After Truth by Ceridwen Dovey

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…

Read some great reviews from our Preview readers here:

Five friends meet for their college reunion fifteen years after graduating from Harvard. All are nearing middle age and still pursuing the elusive goal of happiness and wondering have they wasted the opportunities of their youth. After one of their classmates is found dead on campus during the weekend the soul searching begins in earnest. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book as each of the characters, Jules, Eloise, Jomo and Mariam and Rowan dissect their own lives, their past college days and their own self of the present day and the lives of their friends. My favourite character was Mariam, a stay-at-home mum to two young children, married to Rowan and college sweethearts. Her confidence in herself at the end of the weekend to say ‘I am a pastry chef’ and ‘I am writing a book’ when asked by another classmate about what she does now. The novel also explores the friendships that are forged in our youth that often remain the strongest friendships we will ever have and the changing complexities of those relationships over time – the family we create for ourselves. – Carolyn, WA, 5 Stars

Thank you Better Reading for this advanced copy of Life After Truth by Ceridwen Dovey for my honest review. 15 years after graduating from Harvard, 5 close friends will return for a reunion like no other. I wanted to take my time & savour every word written in this book. The story is told by each character weaving together stories of inner turmoil, unrequited love, success, marriage, parenthood & fame. Do the people we were, determine the people we will become? & do the relationships we have with other people define us? This was a compelling read that I didn’t want to end, the author is brilliant at making the reader invest in the character and truly understand them. This is a book we need right now, provocative, thoughtful, clever & enriching. Absolutely brilliant. – Penne, NSW, 5 Stars

This book had me reflecting and reminiscing about my two high school reunions so far! I really enjoyed how the author weaves together the two worlds of the lives of the main characters – current worlds & their past worlds of college times at Harvard. I did not see the twist coming at the end, something you’ll have to read & discover yourself! This book left me wanting more & hoping for a sequel please. – Melanie, VIC, 5 Stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author immediately introduces the five main characters who will be gathering for a 15yr anniversary reunion to their old Alma Mater at prestigious Harvard University which they do every 5 years from graduation. Who will be there and what changes/directions in their lives have occurred since their last meeting? Now in their mid-thirties, what will they write about themselves in the yearbook entry – the ugly truth or a carefully devised image? Though a work of fiction, the characters become very real to us as we get insights into their diverse lives, choices and current realities in which the author shows a sound knowledge of human nature in all its complexities. They all become very well known to us and who knows what flow ons will occur after vulnerabilities, prejudices, secrets and truths become exposed at the weekend festivities especially when liquor flows, defences are down and old wounds and vulnerabilities and hidden aspirations are opened? I felt often like I did with the “7 Plus” series when characters change over time and the truth of their lived lives were revealed. Who will survive, what truths will come out and what impact will be carried into their future lives? You won’t be disappointed! – Frances, VIC, 5 Stars

One can’t go wrong with a good reunion story. The characters were interesting individually and I enjoyed learning how they became friends and how their friendships developed. I could relate in particular to the female character with children but was equally intrigued by the other characters. After reading the book I felt that “less could have been more” in that I would have preferred to have gotten to know fewer characters on a deeper level than all of them superficially or to the extent that we did. There were some interesting themes raised in the book in relation to gender, sex, happiness, relationships and similarly I would have like to have seen some of them developed further rather than putting several of them out there. Overall a very enjoyable read. – Susan, VIC, 4 Stars

I enjoyed the book and read it very fast. With a book that each chapter changes from one character to another, I feel I have to read this quickly as otherwise, I lose the storyline. The Anniversary Report at the start was good to get an idea about the characters and I did refer back to this report a few times while reading the book. It was an interesting story but I just didn’t relate to the rich, privileged America’s who studied at Harvard. It was not quite my type of book or story and I’m not actually sure what happened in the end with Jules and Frederick Reese. The other characters were interesting but the book just didn’t feel real to me. Could have something to do with I prefer to read true stories or autobiographies. – Karen, QLD, 4 Stars

I loved this raw, honest and thought-provoking read. It was very timely too as I’m about to head to my 20-year school reunion. A real page turner. – Kim, NSW, 4 Stars

Thank you Better Reading for the opportunity to read and review Life After Truth, by Ceridwen Dovey. I found this book easy reading enjoying how each of the characters told his or her story from the beginning of their friendships at Harvard University up till the weekend of the reunion. The author manages to engage the reader, describing the campus and surrounds to bring to life how the friends are feeling being back where it all began for them. – Kerry, NSW, 4 Stars

It seems a timely moment to read this book, a work of fiction, with so many parallels to the current US political strangeness. From that ‘big picture’ political angling with the death of the president’s son however, it’s the lesser relationship politics that really make this novel interesting. As the friends take stock of their lives and the fronts they put on, the tearing down of personal facades reminds us what it is to be competitive, anxious, human. – Amelia, NSW, 4 Stars

Life after Truth by Ceridwen Dovey is a great read. It’s the story of a group of friends meeting up for their 15 year reunion at Harvard. The book jumps between now, during the 4 day reunion and back in time when they were students together living under the one roof. The characters of the novel are all well rounded and believable, I particularly enjoyed reading their inner voices as they thought about what had happened and what was happening. I found myself invested in the characters, wanting to know what was coming next. This is a thoroughly enjoyable book that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. – Leigh, VIC, 4 Stars

Life After Truth by Ceridwen Dovey tells the story of five close friends who graduated from Harvard fifteen years earlier and are attending their five-year reunion. By means of chapters variously devoted to each friend, the author explores the past and present lives of each main character and how their lives and relationships are entwined. The novel covers fame and fortune, same-sex marriage, the pursuit of happiness, politics and the demands of family life. We see how each character has developed over the past fifteen years. The most loathed member of the class is not one of the five but his father has been recently elected President and the book also explore how each friend feels about him especially when he is found dead. – John, VIC, 4 Stars

Set around 2018 in modern-day America, Life after Truth by Ceridwen Dovey is a novel about a university reunion and what happens to people when life takes over. 5 people who spent years of university life living in the same suite of rooms come together 15 years later for a reunion. One was already in the public eye and consequently a very private person. Another who ran his own business and has spent years living the high life and now through a set of circumstances finds himself questioning everything that he ever did. A couple who married straight out of university and now have children are struggling with the day to day demands that having a young family places on most couples. The last is now a professor in the very school where she was taught and is struggling with the idea of getting older. The reunion is a chance for soul searching and we find that jealousy sometimes tinges reunions like this. All characters in this book are struggling with life in one way or another sometimes unseen by others. There is also another character in this book who is apparently the son of the President of the USA. A character that has power and is not afraid to use it to further his own ends. He is not well-liked amongst the other students and this fact has a bearing on the outcome of the book. This was an easy read, well written, and I completed it in a day. However I found that the author went into great detail about some of the characters but not others which I found a bit confusing, but others may not feel that way. That said Life After Truth (Ceridwen Dovey) was a good read and I would recommend this book to others. – Nicola, VIC, 4 Stars

A book about the ageing and maturing of friendships and relationships. I’ve had a theme lately… the past few books I’ve read have involved reunions of college friends in their 30s. Timely given my 30th birthday recently! Ceridwen Dovey has written some really rich characters and connections within the novel that drew me in and made me feel like a fly on the wall in their world for a little while. Enjoyable, easy summer reading. – Michelle, SA, 4 Stars

‘Life After Truth’ is an interesting read that hooks you in with a diverse cast of characters. Ceridwen Dovey cleverly explores the differences between how someone can present themself to the world versus who they really are. The characters all hold secrets, which we are privy to thanks to Dovey’s decision to have multiple characters act as narrator. Throw in some wonderful twists, turns, and a death and you have a riveting read! – Emma, NSW, 4 Stars

I enjoyed this book, a story about friends meeting again at their 15-year Harvard reunion. The story is told by four main characters. It explores multiple subjects: friendships, parenting, AI, politics, love and status. The characters are all so contrasting, complex and interesting. One of my favourite quotes from the book was: ‘Happiness is a noun, so we think it’s something we can own. But happiness is a place to visit, not a place to live’. The hedonic treadmill we are all on! Cleverly written characters and their own perspectives of their world. They felt like real people and I want to know what happens next! – Debra, NSW, 4 Stars

For four days a group of friends gather for their 15th Harvard reunion, ending in the death of one of their former classmates. This story goes on each of the friend’s journey’s, from Harvard right through to their middle-aged lives, with reflections on who they are, who they wanted to be, and their place in the world. To be honest, reading ‘Life after Truth’, gave me more questions and thoughts about life than I did before. Do I understand what I read? No. This story blended with the real-life political election of the United States. I did watch and read up on quite a bit on the election, that I went off on thought tangents that mirrored the book, or did… nope let’s just end it there. – Amanda, VIC, 4 Stars

I love a story that switches between its different characters – Life After Truth was just what I needed for a ‘2020 escape’! – Emma, VIC, 4 Stars

Thank you Better Reading for the opportunity to read Life After Truth by Ceridwen Dovey. This was a different read for me as I couldn’t relate to the college scene. It was about a group of friends that when to college together and are now going their reunion. The different characters are relatable and you can understand some of their lives. This book makes you think about your own life and how you have lived it, the choices you have made and your feelings of getting older. Once you get into the lives of the different characters you can enjoy the book. I enjoyed the twist at the end!! – Judy, NSW, 3 Stars

Ceridwen Dovey’s Life After Truth is a clever, contemporary story about a group of college friends returning to Harvard for their 15-year reunion and a full weekend program of events. The friends have remained close although their lives have taken different paths. However, some underlying tensions and resentments threaten to jeopardise the reunion. I loved the different points of view and the way these were interwoven. The story flips backwards and forwards, and is also circular, ending at the beginning. While some characters’ motivations and backstories are clearly articulated, others are only glimpses. The nostalgia of the reunion is captured brilliantly, the narrative provides a sense of dislocation through the random and incomplete interactions at the various parties and events. I read it against the backdrop of the recent US election which gave it an added sense of ‘real-time viewing’! A good ‘fun’ read with some interesting observations on relationships, love and happiness. – Terese, TAS, 3 Stars

Life After Death by Ceridwen Dovey follows a group of friends celebrating their 15-year reunion from Harvard now middle-aged the group of friends reflect on the past present and future lives and the path they have each followed, A gay couple deciding on having a child together, a couple who already have two children and two friends declaring their love for each other. The book follows a long weekend timeline of the reunion, in the first chapter the president son has died and his witnessed by a number of the friends, nothing more of these events is mentioned until the last third of the book, only the groups dislike for this person. I wanted to love this book as it had been compared to Big Little Lies which I enjoyed but I feel so left short I didn’t quite get a good grasp of the characters, I feel this book could easily be adapted into a series or movie where the characters could be more developed. Overall I would recommend this title to a reader who is wanting a light read. – Crystal, TAS, 3 Stars

I wasn’t completely sold on this book. I found it quite slow going and took a while to get to the plot of the story. The ending was exciting and unexpected though. – Nicky, NSW, 3 Stars

Great writing of the story of 5 close friends and their intertwining friendship since attending Harvard university together. The build-up of the characters are thoughtful and interesting, evoking a deep connection with the reader. Exploring multiple subjects this story is a great read and thought-provoking. – Jen, VIC, 3 Stars

Life After Truth tells the story of a friendship group of five Harvard graduates that are back on campus for their 15th year reunion weekend, which is marred by the death of their hated classmate Frederick Reese, the son of the detested US president. As the friends are on the cusp of middle age, this reunion is a poignant reminder of what once was and what is now, forcing them to reflect and analyze on their achievements, failures and regrets across the weekend celebrations. Tension begins to ripple across the group and secrets begin to emerge when they’re faced with some hard truths within themselves and each other. Their introspective thoughts were pivotal in driving the story and the events leading up to Fredrick Reese’s death, which I was glad to read was more of a secondary storyline and not the focal point of the novel, which I initially thought. – Christine, VIC, 3 Stars

Easy read over a weekend, a nice book to relax with. – Heidi, NSW, 3 Stars

I found this was a good book, with charming and satisfying characters. The theme is the weekend of a 15-year college reunion that will end up being a real shake-up for the 5 main characters. They were all block mates in college, sharing their lives as well as their accommodation house. They all think they’ve grown to know each other fairly well over the last 15 years, but of course, this reunion will shake them up and tip them out. Perhaps they didn’t know each other as well as they thought? Things are said that shouldn’t have been said (or should they)? My favourite character is Mariam. I could relate to her view of the world and her life situation. She’s warm and breezy firmly believing in her family situation. All in all a light, pleasing read. – Christine, VIC, 3 Stars

Review of Life After Truth by Ceridwen Dovey. Thank you Better Reading and Penguin for a free copy of this book. My review however is not going to be favourable. When I started to read this I was immediately hooked but alas that only lasted about half a dozen pages. The chapters were broken into the main characters of Mariam, Jomo, Eloise and Rowan, over and over and over again. Jules was interwoven into each of these. I didn’t feel that I got to know any of these characters and my impression was that they didn’t know themselves either. A group of 40ish-year-olds who went to Harvard together and meet every 5 years at a reunion. Their lives seemed to have nothing to do with their Harvard education and meeting up was simply to brag about how good the previous 5 years had been, even if they weren’t. Were they trying to live up to others expectations, their own, or not living up to anything at all? The epilogue was a good read but was not a good summing up with a lot of questions unanswered. Oh and just for fun a murder was thrown in! This is a genre I usually enjoy but this version did not impress. – Fiona, QLD, 3 Stars

Ceridwen Dovey’s Life After Truth starts with a promising premise – a college reunion focusing on a group of friends 15 years after graduating from Harvard. The group is a disparate bunch with wildly varying careers. Unfortunately, I didn’t warm to any of the characters, aside from a few familiar moments of parenting extremes provided by Maryam, and as such didn’t really care how their weekend went. The not so subtle allusions to Trump via President Reese were mildly intriguing with plenty of anti-Reese sentiment among the year group, although there was very little about Reese’s politics or the reason for this enmity. And the dramatic event capping off the weekend occurs in the final pages, despite being alluded to in the blurb. Unfortunately, this book had me waiting for something to happen which, in the end, didn’t really. – Jason, VIC, 2 Stars

To be honest, I didn’t personally enjoy this book and I would only give it two stars. I didn’t feel any connection to the characters. Not the usual type of book I woud read. – Michelle, VIC, 2 Stars

I really liked the premise of this book but found it difficult to connect with the characters as they were all hiding something and being dishonest with the people they loved. The murder, which we were forewarned about, occurred near the end and didn’t really have much bearing on the story. There were some very insightful moments and the author seems to have a deep understanding of how people tick. – Christina, NSW, 2 Stars

Personally, I think that the story was very slow, I lost interest a few times. I loved Rowan and Mariam story they were just your average couple with a family, standing on the outside looking in on their friend’s lives. I would have liked to have seen Fred’s murder come more into the story a lot earlier instead of the end. – Annette, VIC, 1 Star

I’m having a lot of difficulties reviewing this book. To be totally honest I did not enjoy reading it. I struggled to finish it. I could not really tell you anything about the storyline in this book or much about the characters. It was not engaging at all and I found the characters were very hard to connect with. I was left disappointed as I thought after reading the synopsis that it would be a novel I would enjoy. Thank you @betterreading for the copy to review. #BRPreview – Renae, QLD, 1 Star

Reviews

Try a Sample Chapter of Ceridwen Dovey's Stunning New Novel, Life After Truth

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9 November 2020

Try a Sample Chapter of Ceridwen Dovey's Stunning New Novel, Life After Truth

    Ceridwen Dovey Shares the Inspiration Behind her Compelling New Novel, Life After Truth

    Review | Author Related

    9 November 2020

    Ceridwen Dovey Shares the Inspiration Behind her Compelling New Novel, Life After Truth

      Clever and Thought-Provoking: Read our Review of Life After Truth by Ceridwen Dovey

      Review | Our Review

      9 November 2020

      Clever and Thought-Provoking: Read our Review of Life After Truth by Ceridwen Dovey

        Synopsis

        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 . . .
        Ceridwen Dovey
        About the author

        Ceridwen Dovey

        Ceridwen was born in South Africa and raised between South Africa and Australia. While studying social anthropology at Harvard as an undergraduate, she made a documentary about South African wine farm workers, Aftertaste. She wrote her first novel, Blood Kin, while living in Cape Town, then returned to the U.S. for graduate studies in social anthropology at New York University.She now lives with her husband and son in Sydney, Australia.

        Books by Ceridwen Dovey

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