The female experience of Fascism isn’t one we’re used to reading about. And particularly not in a way that whilst not painting the political philosophy in a sympathetic light exactly, does explore how a young mother could become swept up in it all. In Cressida Connelly’s After The Party, it’s 1979, and Phyllis Forrester takes us back to the summer of 1938, when Oswald Mosley visited the parties at her sister’s house, and everything changed. Believing that the only way to prevent another war was to follow the Leader, she and her family become sucked into the party, with devastating consequences. Years later, with prison sentences under the belt, she wonders if she can ever be forgiven, and if she can ever forgive.
Connelly writes with detail and perception, painting a vivid picture of both the English countryside and the people who live within it. Her research and attention to history is impeccable, and the novel explores an element of the events of the past that we often forget – real people were involved. The movements we loathe were not all made up of evil people, but ordinary individuals. Phyllis Forrester was just one.