We meet Jim, a young man who has never gotten over the infidelity of his first love, Dawn. After struggling to cope with her rejection (or perhaps his paranoia over her fidelity) he descends into a period of mental instability and substance abuse. Psychiatric intervention sees Jim slowly climb back up through the levels of "madness" back to some sort of normality.
Feeling strong, Jim sets out for a brave, new challenge. Deciding to get away from London and all that has caused him pain, he heads for the wilds of Scotland and the fishing and birdwatching that are indeed his passions.
In Scotland, Jim meets Pauline and the cycle begins again or does it?
I enjoyed the story and I couldn't help but wonder if there was an element of the autobiographical in it. Regardless, it is a simple tale of a man lost in his creation and search for the "perfect love", a love that is clearly unobtainable.
I knew Finch was a poet as well as a novelist and my initial thoughts when I began to read After Dawn, was that it was more poetry than prose. As a reader, I started to think Finch was trying to impress me with his grasp of lyrical English, rather than tell me a story. Make no mistake, the author is a wordsmith and a very good one at that, but I did feel it was a little overdone in this book. It was almost like each simile or description had to be bigger, brighter, and more convoluted than the one that preceded it. I'm certainly not knocking Finch's style, but for me, in this story, it almost descended into cliche.
The story itself was great and I would recommend the read on that score alone. If you are a fan of lyrical and descriptive prose, then definitely give this a try. Finch is a master of the language. Four stars from me, on the story and the empathy, Finch grabbed out of me, for the main character, Jim.