The debut novel by the bestselling author of THE ESSEX SERPENT
One hot summer's day, John Cole decides to leave his life behind.
He shuts up the bookshop no one ever comes to and drives out of London. When his car breaks down and he becomes lost on an isolated road, he goes looking for help, and stumbles into the grounds of a grand but dilapidated house.
Its residents welcome him with open arms - but there's more to this strange community than meets the eye. They all know him by name, they've prepared a room for him, and claim to have been waiting for him all along.
Who are these people? And what do they intend for John?
Elegant, gently sinister and psychologically complex, After Me Comes the Flood is the haunting debut novel by the author of The Essex Serpent.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
From the author: “My first novel was rejected by almost every publisher in the land. And they all said: ‘This is extraordinary. What a haunting novel. I’ll never forget it. No thanks.’ And I just remember thinking, ‘I don’t really know what else to do.’ It was really hard. It only got published because my first agent became a publisher and published it; that’s how I got my first break. I realised that I’m quite a weird writer, which is good, but right at the beginning, no-one knows what to do with you. I don’t know why I write the way I do. It’s not out of choice; it comes out that way. Perhaps what’s important to remember, however, is that I was born in, like 1850, because of the way I was brought up [Perry was raised in a strict Baptist home]. I didn’t have access to contemporary culture. I was raised on the Bible and on Thomas Hardy and Tennyson. There was never any chance of me developing a spare, Hemingway, 21st-century prose, when I was reciting Tennyson when I was 12 because there was bugger all else to do. I wasn’t going to parties.”
In Melmoth author Perry's eerie, peculiar latest (first published in the U.K. in 2014), an anxious London bookshop owner assumes a new identity among a set of mentally disturbed strangers. After feeling oppressed by the summer heat, John Cole closes up the shop and decides to visit his brother in Norfolk. On the way, John gets lost and suffers a panic attack, his car breaks down, and then, following a path through the forest, he discovers a house full of people who claim they have been awaiting his arrival. Initially unable to admit he's not the "Jon Coules" they'd been expecting, he finds himself captivated by the group of old friends particularly Eve and Alex, both in their 20s who know each other from their past stays at St. Jude's psychiatric ward. Hester, the mischievous, much older ringleader, vows to help the others improve themselves, while Alex, alarmed by anonymous letters he's received about a nearby dam, takes dangerous nightly swims to check for signs of impending floods. Over the week spent at the house, John's lust for Eve grows and he settles into his borrowed identity as Coules, and Perry teases out questions of sanity, love, and faith. Though the slow pace will test readers' patience, the novel succeeds in building a strange world in the English woods. Perry's fans will want to take a look.