The cult of ‘I’: Alex Hourston on the themes in Love After Love

Love after Love is the intimate and gripping new novel by Alex Hourston. The novel’s protagonist is Nancy Jenson, who is a mother, a sister, a wife and a therapist. When she bumps into Adam, with whom she has an undeniable connection, a striking and in-depth examination of life and love unfolds. Here, the author writes about six themes present in the novel.


Adultery and self

Why does Nancy cheat? What are the pushes and pulls? Is it about the two men in her life – Stef and Adam – whom she cannot choose between, or a more essential question about Nancy herself and the way she wants to live?

Sibling rivalry

Nancy adores her brother David; he’s gorgeous, charming and feckless. They’ve stayed close into adulthood; her door is always open to him; she’s thrown a party so his fortieth doesn’t pass unmarked. But when he vanishes without a word, another – and very different – version of their relationship comes into view, characterised by resentment, competition and lies.

Mother and identity

Nancy’s love for her three children is huge and complex. They’re growing up, pulling away and becoming strange to her. Who is she, now, as distinct from them?

Memory and the stories we choose

Every family has its myths and anecdotes, passed down the line and confirming stereotypes. More interesting, though, are the disputed stories, misremembered or buried, and what happens when they come into the light.

Therapy and the cult of ‘I’

Nancy, a therapist, works with her clients to help them uncover their needs and wants, and live their best possible lives. But what if doing so means hurting someone else?

Houses and homes

What is a home and what are we really doing when we decorate, improve and extend?

Love after Love by Alex Hourston is available now here