DiscoverWomen's Fiction

Happy Ever... after


Not for me 😔

Earl's novel is a strong, character-driven love story, but one that fails to deliver on the (advertised) sensitive topic of sexual assault.

happy ever … after by Seb Earl is a well-written, engaging, and character driven story. As an author, he is committed to the depth of his characters, but struggles to give proper justice to the tension that drives his main character, Emily’s, struggle.

Earl is no stranger to character driven narratives. In his book happy ever… after each person, from Sarah (Emily’s best friend) to Matthew (Emily’s neighbor), is well developed and a pleasure to follow throughout the story. Some of the characters might seem somewhat cliché to begin with, but as the plot unfolds, it becomes clear that they each have their own back-story, one that is intimately related to how they are, how they act, throughout the novel. The author’s attention to detail extends past Earl's careful treatment of his characters: he also thrives in his portrayal of the small moments in relationships, the ones that crawl under the skin and draw the couple deeper into and further away from each other. He draws the reader into the most intimate of settings, showing us the ways the protagonists needle into each other. Subtlety, however, may not be one of the authors’ strong suits.

Though Seb Earl succeeds in his ability to show the readers how his characters feel, react and act with each other, he often circles back and tells the reader exactly what was just shown with his prose. This strategy is somewhat redundant, and the author might strengthen his novel by leaning into his powerful description. The main issue I have with Earl’s novel, however, is his treatment of sexual assault. Emily’s story is advertised as being driven by the trauma of her rape, but this theme seems to play a back seat to the theme of romance and miscommunication. Though Emily struggles with demons that emerge throughout the narrative, they could easily be attributed to anything else: anxiety, depression, or even the simple frustration of unmet expectations and silent histories. In addition, some aspects of her struggle to overcome the trauma of her rape were unrealistic.

Seb Earl is no doubt a talented story-teller: his characters shine and his descriptions are evocative. In his hands, happy ever … after is a well written love story. However, his ability to realistically handle the complicated topic of sexual assault remains unconvincing: In his novel, Emily’s rape came across as a convenient catalyst to the somewhat over-used story of the 30-year old single woman in search of love. 

Reviewed by

We (Sophia and Natasha) are passionate about fostering challenging conversations, even when the people involved disagree. We feel that modern society lacks the ability to model and impart the skills to respectfully disagree which is why we started the online platform Winter's Bloom.

About the author

Born in France, Seb moved to the UK in 2003. Losing his dad to the big C made him realise the fast passing of time. Supported by his wife, he finally published his first novel last year. Through his writing, he explores with compassion and realism some of the challenges that life throws at us. view profile

Published on November 07, 2018

Published by

70000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Women's Fiction

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