In Jewell's earlier book Ralph's Party, Jem and Ralph found each other and fell in love. Now, eleven years later two miscarriages and two babies later. With the passage of time and children and ghosts of the past to the equation Jem and Ralph have started to lose connection with each other and themselves. They love their children, but have to remember the Love they have for each other and who they are too. And the changes they have to face are hard and make them questions who they are, who they have become, and who they want to be and if those are compatible together as a couple.
This book seemed really long to me a points, but at other points the length made sense with how intense the plot was. The characters were well developed and we followed them through their own self discovery and discovery of each other again, as chapters alternated between Jem and Ralph. At the end I understood the length, but I did feel like most of the action really happened at the end. There were moments earlier in the book where I had wanted to just stop reading, since nothing seemed to be happening and I didn't want to read about people just feeling bad about themselves and their situation, I can get that enough in real life. Something kept me going though and I was so glad that I did finish the book.
Finishing this book all I could do was sigh. It wrapped up nicely, yet very intense at the end. The sigh was one of those, almost holding your breath to see how things turn out, happy with the romantic ending, and a release of the emotions at the same time. It was just a satisfaction that I felt at the end of the book, that I don't get with every book and was something I could appreciate with After the Party.
Overall I would suggest this book IF you enjoyed Ralph's Party. As a standalone book, I think you can follow it since the characters are introduced again, but it is helpful knowing where Ralph and Jem came from to get to this point. I think the plot deals with some tough issues and that made it harder to read, but stand by the ending is worth getting through the rest in my opinion.