The Life That Follows

Fiction - Drama
321 Pages
Reviewed on 09/30/2023
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

David Hartshorn grew up in Lancaster, New Hampshire, and is an honors graduate of Middlebury College with a degree in American Literature. He currently lives in Burlington, Connecticut where he is a practicing trial attorney. The Life That Follows is his second novel. Reviewers have called it “truly compelling” and “a profoundly empathetic and keenly observed meditation on how the human spirit can endure.” His first novel, More Than Halfway There, recently placed third among thousands of entries in an international book contest in the category of literary fiction. Both novels fondly examine the lives of characters living in small towns nestled in the mountains of northern New Hampshire and Vermont.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Life That Follows is a work of fiction in the interpersonal drama, slice-of-life, and relationship subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience and was penned by author David Hartshorn. In this compelling novel filled with deep emotion, an interpersonal drama that really tugs at the heartstrings, we take a close-up look at how people rebuild their lives after a tragic loss. Our protagonist Owen McGivney finds himself suddenly directionless and grieving when life doesn’t work out quite as he’d planned. As he interacts with three newcomers to his life, Owen undergoes a journey of acceptance and hope as he lets go of the past and looks to a brighter tomorrow once more.

Author David Hartshorn has crafted a truly compelling and intricately penned interpersonal drama that is sure to warm the hearts of all who read it. One of the things that really struck me about the tone and approach of this novel was how hopeful it felt even when discussing the most distressing aspects of life, love, and loss, and how important and beautifully realized the human connections were at the center of the tale. I really genuinely liked Owen in the central role of the tale, and his character development and dialogue felt like a real person forging a new path for himself when life has closed several doors in his face all at once. The palpable sense of hope runs like a lifeblood through the core of this novel, and overall I’d recommend The Life That Follows to all drama fans for its emotional impact and accomplished storytelling.

Christine Nguyen

The Life That Follows by David Hartshorn is a tug-at-your-heartstrings novel about a widower named Owen McGivney who is trying to navigate life after his wife, Emma, of over thirty years, has unexpectedly passed away. Owen lives in a very small town called Lewis Falls in Vermont and he must find purpose and meaning to his grief-stricken life again. He adopts a dog named Sam from the shelter and he still meets his lifelong friends every Wednesday for breakfast at Gussie Cole’s diner, but life for Owen still remains empty. However, chance encounters open Owen’s world up to a more hopeful future. He meets the mysterious younger woman named Samantha Jackson through his volunteer service. Samantha is not his typical older patient, but someone young and vibrant that shakes his world - enabling an unlikely friendship to emerge.

David Hartshorn writes beautifully of love shared and lost and where to go afterward when natural life events take a wrong turn. He also captures the nostalgic spirit of living in a small rustic town. This is not only a story of aging and loss, but also the resiliency of both the young and the old. Hartshorn brings hope for a better tomorrow amongst the grief of a significant lifelong partner and the natural progression to continue living. The Life That Follows is a poignant story that delves into the grieving and healing processes that naturally occur after death. I was thoroughly immersed in Owen’s journey from grief to letting love and hope back into his life again.

Viga Boland

The Life That Follows by David Hartshorn is a touching, sometimes humorous story with beautifully rendered characters. Owen, a former successful attorney, retired in his sixties. He planned to enjoy his golden years with his beloved wife, but when Emma dies way too soon for those plans to fall into place, Owen is left reeling from the loss and feels lost and lonely. Thankfully, his small group of friends who meet regularly, and his newly adopted dog, Sam, keep him from falling apart.

When fate begins bringing new people into his life, as he helps them navigate their heartbreaking losses, he gets a new lease on life. Samantha, a woman 20 years his junior, needs his strength as she deals with a gut-wrenching mistake from her past. And in Abby, a widow closer to his age, Owen begins to believe that he might be able to love another woman without feeling like he is betraying his beloved wife. The story is captivating, punctuated by realistic dialogue that allows readers to experience the characters’ emotional highs and lows. Hartshorn delves into several other important life themes that bring lots of “aha” moments, but I would prefer you explore those with him by reading The Life that Follows. It’s well worth your attention and time.

Nino Lobiladze

Owen McGivney is a retired attorney living in the cozy village of Lewis Falls, Vermont. The sudden death of Owen's beloved wife, Emma, left him heartbroken at just sixty-two years of age. Owen tries to find reasons to continue living and adopts a dog from a local shelter. Also, he volunteers to bring carless patients to the Regional Medical Center and back home. That's how Owen met Samantha, a much younger woman with a vibrant personality, who had a surprising influence on him. An old friend battling cancer asks Owen to become the guardian of her eleven-year-old son, Charlie, in case she dies. Will Owen, who is already a grandfather, accept another challenge? The Life That Follows by David Hartshorn is a captivating read for fans of drama and inspirational literature.

In The Life That Follows, David Hartshorn explores how losses reshape our perception of life. The book also speaks about the transience of life, coping with grief, and our obligations towards those we love. David uses the road as a metaphor for life and freedom of choice. The author shows us young Owen traveling in the mid-1970s when his future was wide open. Interestingly, the already-retired Owen also wanted to hit the road one more time. Owen is a relatable and lovable character. He is a little bit old-fashioned and a true gentleman. The Life That Follows is narrated from Owen's perspective, offering us his dry humor and the acute observations of an experienced lawyer. I liked the descriptive language. David thoroughly describes the beautiful New England scenery and conveys the anticipation before Owen's beloved baseball team's game at Boston's Fenway Park. This is a profound and engaging book that I highly recommend.

Pikasho Deka

The Life That Follows is a slice-of-life drama by David Hartshorn. Owen McGivney is a recently widowed retired attorney who lives a humdrum life in Lewis Falls, Vermont. At sixty-three years of age, Owen feels lonely with little hope for the future. He volunteers with Social Services to transport people to the medical center and he meets Samantha Jackson. Owen strikes up a burgeoning friendship with Samantha, and the two unlikely friends bond over their grief. After serving as a witness in a shooting trial in Jackson Meadows, New Hampshire, Owen is back in Vermont, where one of his former clients is dying of cancer. Soon, he finds himself as the guardian of her eleven-year-old son, Charlie. How will Owen navigate this new curveball life has thrown at him?

A poignant tale about hope and finding one's purpose, The Life That Follows is captivating all the way through. David Hartshorn's engaging novel showcases the issue of getting older and how helping others can bring meaning and purpose to someone's life. The story has its share of heartbreak and humor, and Hartshorn's narrative treads a fine line between tragedy and hope. This is primarily a character-driven drama, and Hartshorn's characters display multifaceted layers that make them feel like people you may have met in real life. I was engrossed by the different relationship dynamics between Owen and the people who came into his life. Owen and Charlie's relationship was particularly wholesome for me. The book closes on a hopeful note, and it makes the ending all the more satisfying. In conclusion, this is an absorbing drama I will highly recommend.

Grant Leishman

The Life That Follows by David Hartshorn is a poignant, bittersweet tale of love, loss, relationships, growing older, and familial connection that reminds us of what is important in life; human connection. When lawyer Owen McGivney retired, life with his beloved Emma was supposed to be idyllic in their rural Lewis Falls, Vermont home. Life, however, was to throw a curveball at the couple, and with the unexpected death of Emma, leaving Owen alone, bereft, and unsure of what life might still have to offer him. Adopting a rescue dog, Sam, gave him love and companionship, and his old buddies, whom he met once a week for breakfast at the local diner, gave him comradeship. Other than that, it seemed Owen was just treading water waiting for his now sad existence on this planet to come to an end. A volunteer job of driving patients to the local medical center changes all that though when Owen meets a troubled woman, half his age, who would have a profound impact on his future direction.

The Life That Follows is a deeply emotional and personally identifiable story. Author David Hartshorn has created a character in Owen that many readers will be able to look at and instantly recognize as maybe their dad, their granddad, or even themselves. As a reader who is around Owen’s age, I felt his sense of loss, lack of direction, and seeming acceptance that life was essentially over for him keenly, and his humility, when assessing his worth, typical of his generation and his sex. The introduction of Charlie into Owen’s life was the tonic and kick that he needed to display the wonderful caring, sensitive nature of the previous curmudgeon. I thoroughly enjoyed the relationship that developed as the author beautifully explored the connection and benefits, for both parties, of a bonding between the young and the old. That both Owen and Charlie would gain so much for themselves merely by showing love, care, and concern is what gives this story such poignancy and beauty that transcends the human tragedy inherent in the narrative. I particularly appreciated Owen’s growing sense of self-worth as he came to realize that his life did not essentially end upon the death of his beloved wife. This is a truly heartwarming story that touched me deeply and I cannot recommend it highly enough.