After You've Gone is the story of two generations of musicians, a jazz grandmother and a punk granddaughter, who each struggle with balancing life, love, and art in their respective eras. The novel opens in 2007 with Elsa Taggart and her ex-husband watching their son's convocation from Seattle University. The events that bring about this everyday moment are then revealed in a series of spirited flashbacks that move convincingly between Elsa and her grandmother. Lita and Elsa's lives are revealed in a procession of parallel events.
In 1935 Regina, Lita, as a young woman of gypsy ancestry, develops a passion for playing the guitar. Encouraged and wide-eyed she joins a Regina jazz combo and begins a life that she couldn't imagine and didn't expect. From the first moment that she falls in love with the group's lead singer, to the dark moment of his death, Lita's fate is sealed.
In paralleled abandon, Elsa has become the lead singer / songwriter and guitarist of Speed Queen, a Regina punk band. Her boyfriend Mark Taggart is also in a punk band. In love with the music scene, with each other, and their new baby, they decide their musical prospects would be better in Seattle than in Regina, a move that will prove to bring about significant changes
Though fifty years exist between Lita and Elsa, their circumstances reflect and conform to the lives they have chosen. The daunting risks of the musician's life coupled with the pursuit of intimate relationships lead to the heartache and grief that comes with such adventure. The pain of rejection and betrayal has to be managed, just as the responsibility of commitments must be maintained. After You've Gone is also the story of these two musicians' generations and how those forces that pushed against a jazz-musician grandmother from the Great Depression and those of a female Punk artist from the 80s, are comparable. Balancing career and art in their respective eras was difficult; balancing love, men, and babies was work. Though they are part of different worlds, both are challenged by the pitfalls of women musicians, both are haunted by the love they had for their men, and both were changed by the babies they birthed. Though neither was looking, they were both sagacious enough to link together their common experience and provide strength for each other, bound by their muse and their blood.