THE AFTER PARTY Innocence and Innuendos


THE AFTER PARTY CoverBy: Anton DiSclafani
Narrator: Dorothy Dillingham Blue
Penguin Random House Audio/Penguin Audio
Release Date: May 17, 2016
10 Hours
Genre: Fiction – Contemporary Women
Also available in print formats
Print Length: 381 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Books (May 17, 2016)

Audiobook provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.

From the nationally bestselling author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls comes a story of 1950s Texas socialites and the one irresistible, controversial woman at the bright, hot center of it all.

Joan Fortier is the epitome of Texas glamour and the center of the 1950s Houston social scene. Tall, blonde, beautiful, and strong, she dominates the room and the gossip columns. Every man who sees her seems to want her; every woman just wants to be her. But this is a highly ordered world of garden clubs and debutante balls. The money may flow as freely as the oil, but the freedom and power all belong to the men. What happens when a woman of indecorous appetites and desires like Joan wants more? What does it do to her best friend?

Devoted to Joan since childhood, Cece Buchanan is either her chaperone or her partner in crime, depending on whom you ask. But as Joan’s radical behavior escalates, Cece’s perspective shifts—forcing one provocative choice to appear the only one there is.

A thrilling glimpse into the sphere of the rich and beautiful at a memorable moment in history, The After Party unfurls a story of friendship as obsessive, euphoric, consuming, and complicated as any romance.

My Take Oblong Shaped

This is a fascinating look at the lives of women reaching adulthood in the middle of the twentieth century.  They were born in the depression to wealthy families  and grow up in privilege in Houston.  They are at the top of society in Houston.

In many ways the story reminded me of  THE HELP, and DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YAYA SISTERHOOD – at least the nostalgic parts.  Wealth and poverty are not the big issues of the book, although, like Skeeter in THE HELP, Cece seeks out her African-American Nanny/Housekeeper for advice and also feels closer to her than she did to her own mother.

Mostly this is about a friendship between a super wealthy and stunning girl, Joan, and her friend since nursery school, Cece.  Cece has spent much of her life in Joan’s shadow; as her shadow sometimes.

Cece even ceded her name to Joan in Nursery school when the teacher tried to give them each a name.  The problem was that Joan was wild and Cece wasn’t nearly as wild, Cece was loyal and true and Joan was there for big things but wasn’t so very loyal. 
At eh start of the book, told from Cece’s point of view she tells us that in any friendship one friend is more needy and one more powerful.  Cece fulfills the role of handmaiden, and then warden to Joan’s wildness. 

At some point, Joan goes off the rails. She hares off and no one hears from her for a year.  Then she keeps herself from Cece in many ways and this sets up a cycle of obsession. Other times she disappears either physically or emotionally.  They have a weird family situation that strengthens this dependent relationship. Cece is innocent, and loves Joan with a purity undeserving of innuendo.  She is lead into this handmaiden’s role by circumstance and design. Her own mother warns her about it.

There are innuendoes that the relationship is “unnatural” but what it seems to become is one of nanny and growing child. Cece is the nanny and Joan the rebellious child. 

Of course this obsession and devotion is detrimental to Cece’s eventual  marriage and state of mind. She has other friends, belongs to the Junior League, has a home, a baby boy and all the things a young, society matron would have.  But, she is torn between all these things she wants and loves and the mystery of Joan.

What holds their relationship together? How can Cece put up with Joan’s constant and uncaring barbs? That is the mystery of the relationship.

The story comes down to us with the wisdom of Cece looking back at her life, I suspect after lots of therapy. It was a thought-provoking audio book read by Dorothy Dillingham Blue with a sort of innocent, bubbly voice reflecting Cece’s positive nature.  It was a pleasure to listen to it.  Even the sad parts.

I really enjoyed the story and I am still thinking about all of the relationships and what they meant. I highly recommend THE AFTER PARTY.

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