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After Lucy: A Novel Paperback – June 5, 2001

4.2 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Young widower Porter Ellis, adrift after his beloved wife, Lucy, dies of breast cancer, trades in her old car for a dilapidated hippie van and takes his two children for a road trip across the country. This piquant debut novel starts off appropriately quiet and torpid, as the ambivalent, grief-numbed Porter flounders before taking the plunge into adventure. Once the Ellises leave their Pittsburgh home and get on the road, however, the story blazes with intensity. The kids, Kaylie, 12, and Ben, eight, are up for the ride, but complications ensue involving Lucy's doting, affluent parents, who are understandably over-protective of their grandchildren and consider Porter's jaunt irresponsible and dangerous. Indeed, Porter, a frustrated artist with a dead-end graphic design job, has no idea where he's going. He and the kids are headed perhaps for Rocky Mountain National Park, but they stop at an Indiana ramshackle "RV resort and spa" established by Deadheads, where the major activities are nude bathing, smoking pot and listening to the Grateful Dead. There, they befriend one of the residents, Delilah, a pregnant masseuse with a gentle touch. Trapped by a bad hangover, angry in-laws and a leaky transmission, Porter finally confronts his grief, his increasingly complex and intimate relationships with his children, and his future. Jones uses humor deftly (the family is plagued with problems involving a cell phone) and sensitively portrays the anger, guilt, frustration and possibilities of renewal that follow the death of a loved one. Meandering passages, including some static scenes at the commune, slow the narrative's pace, but the Ellis family's reclamation of their lives is stirring, with faithful, unaffected dialogue and real emotion. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Jone's amiabel first novel about a man trying to come to9 grips with his life after his wife's death has a lot of potential-much of it unrealized, however. A few weeks after Lucy dies, Porter Jones impusively buys a well-worn, psychedelically decorated camper. He leaves his job and takes 12-year-old dughter Kaylie and eight-year-old son Ben on a trip from Pittsburg to the Rocky Mountains-to the great displeasure of his overbearing and wealthy in-laws. Circumstances (plus a brochure Kaylei finds in the camper) lead the trio toa conclave of former Deadlheads living a druggy, bucolic existence in Indiana. There, Porter ,eets Delilah (coincidentally the previous owner of the truck, whose former boyfriend drove it to Pittsburg and sold it to the used car dealer who sold it to Porter), who convices Porter to abandon his plans and drive her back to Pittsburg so that she can tell her former boyfriend that she is pregnant. Jones, winner of numerous writing awards, is a natural story-teller, but he has diluted Porter's story with too many characters who mostly come off as caricatures. For comprehensive fiction collections only.
Nance Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1st edition (June 5, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060959428
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060959425
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,251,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on April 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this book. The characters are unusual yet totally recognizable in their humanity. Porter, left by Lucy's death to raise their kids and deal with her parents, is a sympathetic anti-hero, a not-living-up-to-expectations guy whose defiant road trip, he would be the first to admit, is a lame attempt to stake out some hallowed ground in an undistinguished life. AFTER LUCY is unlike any other road book. From the moment Porter and the kids drive into the abandoned Deadhead campground, you won't want to be anywhere else.
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By A Customer on June 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This touching and funny novel (the debut from author Jones) tells the story of Porter Ellis, a young man with a family and unfulfilled artistic dreams. His family, however, falls apart when his wife Lucy dies of breast cancer. Impulsively he trades in Lucy's car for a run-down hippie van and takes his two kids, 12-year-old Kaylie and 8-year-old Ben, on a road trip that he hopes will mend their broken hearts and shaky family ties. They don't reach their intended destination, though, and get stranded in an abandoned RV park in Indiana that's populated by a sub-culture of Deadheads. They meet some interesting characters, the most noteworthy of which is Delilah. She and Porter become friends, and when he finds out that she is a couple months pregnant by her ex-boyfriend, they set out to find him.
For such a sad subject, After Lucy leans rather heavily towards the funnier side of the situations, but the serious moments occur often enough to have a profound effect on you as Porter questions the world and life around him. I would have to give Daniel Jones the highest praise for his mood renderings in the book, as he doesn't give in to the temptation to make After Lucy a depressing novel, nor does he make it overly silly.
I really enjoyed the characters in this book, too. Porter is sarcastic and funny with an amiable personality and a certain quality of charm to him. Delilah's also very funny and she is laidback and nice, I liked that about her. Kaylie and Ben, while rather understated, are also good characters that seem like sweet kids. I think it's important for a story to have likeable characters, and this book definitely succeeds in that. After Lucy deserves the top rating from me.
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Format: Hardcover
When I read the summary of this book, I thought it was going to be a tearjerker about a man who loses his wife. Get out the hankies and have myself a good cry. BUT, I was so wrong. This book was HILARIOUS! Porter does have to deal with the loss of his wife, taking care of their kids and dealing with his in-laws and their grief but, this wonderfully entertaining book about the road trip to end all road trips is just plain fun. I really loved this book and found Porter to be a character I thought about a lot after I finished the book. I really wanted to know more about him and what his future held.
I don't think there has been a book (sort of about death) that I have enjoyed so much. Great Read!
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Format: Hardcover
I picked this book out on impulse, having never heard of it before. And I am very glad that I did! This book was fun to read and the things that happened were very unpredictable, which seems almost uncommon these days with books. The characters and the plot made it so I couldn't put this book down. I definately recommend it
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By A Customer on May 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
From start to finish, "After Lucy" is captivating. It is full of wit, feelings, and extraordinary-ordinary characters and situations that keep you turning those pages. To Daniel Jones: Thank you, thank you, thank you! To everyone else - try this book, you'll like it!
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Format: Hardcover
After Lucy is one of those rare novels that mix something as heartfelt as the loss of a wife and mother with something as hilarious as going to a road trip and end up stranded in a campground with a bunch of Grateful Dead fans.
After having lost his wife to Breast Cancer, Porter tries to overcome his grief by going on a road trip with his two kids. He has traded his wife's Mazda for a run-down camper. He ends up stranded in a strange campground surrounded by Deadheads. The trip does not go as planned, but he is able to face his grief and accept that things will not change. Instead, he decides to help a young pregnant woman find her wayward boyfriend. There are some funny moments in the story, and the characters -- especially Porter's in-laws -- are somewhat neurotic and interesting.
The story is both hilarious and heartwarming, but I have one objection. The author should have added more elements of grief in the story, especially with the kids. The novel seldom mentions Lucy, which is strange considering that this character is very important in the story. Other than that the story is great. Enjoy!
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Format: Hardcover
I bought After Lucy after seeing in recommended in the Chicago Trib Book Review, and I heartily endorse it. The book tilts back and forth from humor to sadness to moments of insight but never falls from the highwire. It's a fast, compelling read (took me two days), and a highly auspicious debut for the author.
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Format: Hardcover
Daniel Jones has written a debut novel of uncommon sensitivity and genuine compassion in "After Lucy," a stirring account of recently widowed Porter Ellis' halting, stumbling and triumphant coming-to-grips with his wife's untimely death. Possessing a very readable cadence and giving evidence of an author comfortable with the genuine grief and questions a breaved husband and father would ask, the novel rings true throughout, even if the events described seem improbable and, at times, unbelievable.
For what is more unbelievable than having a young woman succumb to cancer; what is more compelling that having her surviving spouse constantly ponder the significance of his newly minted grief, of the impact of her death on his two beloved (and beautifully described) children and of the absolute need of all of us to grasp what we can of fleeting happiness while we are alive. This moving novel has many virtues, but the constant questioning, the ever-present doubts, the ubiquitous ruminations about the ethics of life are the paramount strengths of the novel. Mr. Jones does not compromise either personal or artistic integrity with pat answers; indeed, Porter Ellis is a completely plausible character, and one cannot help but love him even more by the conclusion of "After Lucy."
I received the distinct impression that the author has great affection for his characters -- from the compelling portraits he draws of Porter's children to the stoned-out and otherworldly contentment of the commune inhabited by Greatful Deadheads. The stony reserve of his parents-in-law, the detached and near-parasitic observations of Porter's brother, the marvelously detailed personality of the used-car salseman -- all are drawn with precision and humanity.
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