A novel by Suzanne Morris

Suzanne Morris talks about AFTERMATH to Bill Beckett on Red River Public Radio.
Click on Interview Link to listen,
and also see dramatic footage from the New London explosion.

The tragedy that struck the New London, Texas, community on March 18th, 1937, has haunted me since my first visit to Pleasant Hill Cemetery, where I noted that fateful date that marked the end of life for so many innocent victims.

I wondered: What would it be like for a survivor who is forced to move away from the community she knew and loved, and where schoolmates, teachers and friends could share in their grief and support one another, as the days went by and they inevitably found a path for moving on from the tragedy? Would this forced separation lessen the unbearable pain of loss? Or, rather, would this survivor be denied her only chance to overcome her loss, and be healed?

In AFTERMATH, Delys Lithingate, retired high school English teacher and poet, delves deeply into the forty years since the tragedy, to find answers--sometimes revealed in sudden flashes of insight; and other times,
gained in the slow and painful process of learning to let go.

Aftermath book jacket

"I loved AFTERMATH. There have been all kinds of histories written about the New London school explosion, but none of them can show how the disaster could shape an individual's life like this novel. With her attention to historical detail, keen sense of empathy, and strong character development, Suzanne Morris personalizes the pathos and life-altering power of America's worst school disaster in a way that no history can approach." - John Ross, Associate Professor of History, Texas College, Tyler, Texas

"In the novel AFTERMATH, Suzanne Morris skillfully describes heroine Delys Lithingate's obsession with the event that disrupted her life, and deftly compels the reader to relive painful fragments forever imbedded in her mind.... The inclusion of Delys' poems, developed over many years following the tragedy, adds depth to the reading experience." - James C. Maroney, Ph.D., Retired History Professor, Lee College, Baytown, Texas

"In the novel AFTERMATH, Suzanne Morris effectively explores both the immediate impact and abiding imprint on bystanders emotionally trapped by circumstances of history. A universal story played out in a small East Texas town, and beyond, it makes for compelling drama just below the surface of life." - Dan K. Utley, Chief Historian, Center for Texas Public History, Texas State University

"From the ashes and rubble of one of America's worst tragedies, Suzanne Morris has created a story of survival, remorse, pain and love in the only way it could be fully expressed--through a novel--one that will break and warm the hearts of readers. As in all her work, she expertly captures the era with its clothing, events, dialogue, and societal norms I still long for. And she does it without intruding on our reading pleasure."
- Jim H. Ainsworth, author of thirteen books, including seven novels.

"In Delys Lithingate, a survivor of the 1937 New London school disaster that shocked Texas and the nation, Suzanne Morris has created a memorable character. The continuing and deepening impact that the loss has throughout Delys' life helps us feel again the ongoing reality of that disaster. AFTERMATH is a well told tale of continuing significance in Texas." - Milton Jordan, Past President, East Texas Historical Association

"I have just finished reading AFTERMATH, and found it the most compelling of all of Suzanne Morris' books. I was drawn from the first sentences by her writing style, and as the story unfolded found I could not put it down. I have read the author's other books and enjoyed them for the stories and the descriptions of the settings, but somehow this book was on a different plane for me. I found the poems especially poignant, and Ms. Morris' talent apparent since they were written from the perspective of the main character. Very impressive. I am fervently recommending AFTERMATH to my friends and fellow book club members." - Debbie Flint, Houston

"I just finished reading AFTERMATH, and found it a beautiful book and very well-written. Ms. Morris' imagination, along with her research, really bring her characters to life. The last section of poems caught me by surprise, but they were beautiful. I loved AFTERMATH!" - W. J. Watt, Houston, Texas

"In AFTERMATH Suzanne Morris has achieved her finest work so far. Her attention to detail and character development is superb. The way she weaves the story around Delys Lithingate's come-and-go memory of the London School explosion gives the harrowing historical event an even greater impact on the reader. Through the careful description of practice drills, performances, honor code, and traditions, the Scottish Brigade's uniqueness becomes real along with its overpowering importance as Delys' salvation. Ms. Morris' capable foreshadowing of her romance with Bruce Buckstrum brings about a stunning surprise at the end of the story. The selections from the New London Anthology which follow the closing chapter add a special dimension to this outstanding novel." - Brenda Miles, award-winning syndicated columnist

"This story of the 1937 New London school explosion will grab your attention at the beginning, but you will find so much more as you read on! Ms. Morris' latest novel takes you inside the heart and mind of Delys Lithingate, who survived the tragedy. But as is the case with survivors of any traumatic event, she was not left unscathed. This is a fascinating read!" - Tammy B., Denver, Colorado

"Wow!!! I have finished AFTERMATH. The verbal description of the explosion made me think I was there. (Ms. Morris) got into the mindset so completely. Being a romantic, I kept hoping that Delys and Bruce would be able to overcome all that had happened. The Anthology was wonderful and helped me to really understand how the tragedy affected them and all the choices they made. It was a tragic story- wonderfully, beautifully written; informative and thought-provoking. Thank you." - Becky Gilly

"I have read a lot about the New London school explosion. I used to take my youth group to New London every year, and they were always moved by the story and the monument. In AFTERMATH, Suzanne Morris paints a very good emotional portrait of the disaster. Delys Lithingate is a wonderfully complex character. I have taught grief workshops for years, and Ms. Morris captures the range of emotions and thoughts and life complications. This is a stunning novel, deeply moving and heartbreaking; hard to put down. Ms. Morris is a gifted writer and poet." - Mike Glenn, Palestine, Texas

"Having just finished AFTERMATH, I have to say, I am emotionally drained. I loved this book, and did not want it to end. The characters became real, and my hopes and fears for them were borne out. The ending, and the poetry that followed, had me in tears. I reread all the poems, which were so poignant and telling. The poem, "Longing," made me long for more, and question my conclusions. In my own mind, I was writing other final chapters, but then decided, no, AFTERMATH ends the only way it could. This is a brilliant novel." - Karen Parsons, Palestine, Texas

"I just finished reading AFTERMATH-- loved it, couldn't put it down!" - Sue Behling, Hot Springs Village, AR

"In AFTERMATH...I discovered an intriguing story of a fictionalized young student who survived the (New London tragedy) but struggled in coming to terms with its aftermath. The story is...beautifully told in recollection by Morris's character, Delys Lithingate..... The text is followed by a poetic anthology..."written" by Delys in her struggle to recall and memorialize the people and events of that terrible day. A compelling story, lovingly researched and extremely well-crafted." - The Jacksonville Progress, Jacksonville, Texas

"I have just finished reading AFTERMATH, and it was wonderful. I could hardly put it down. As with Suzanne Morris' other books, I immediately put myself into the story and felt I was right there with Delys, feeling her pain, frustrations and sorrow. AFTERMATH is a haunting tale...truly a masterpiece!" - Joanna Williams, Rosebud, Texas

"Suzanne Morris isn't gentle about introducing her principal character, but opens her story with a heartbreaking punch to the gut...a horrific school explosion that will cast a pall over a community for all time. Survivor Delys Lithingate bears crippling emotional scars. Her great need is soon juxtaposed on a venerable high school drill team known as the Scottich Brigade. How she blossoms in this organization, with its fundamental teachings of duty, honor, and personal responsibility, bring some joyful moments against the sad backdrop of her loss. In reality, there is loss, too, in the gradual disappearance of such organizations from our lives today. AFTERMATH is a compelling story of a young woman's coming of age. Ms. Morris hit the ball out of the park with this one." - John B. Stewart, Texas City, Texas

"I finished AFTERMATH last week, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. While Delys' experience was linked to the London School tragedy, how many people, young and old, face similar challenges with the many tragedies of our times...? I have been a loyal follower of Suzanne Morris since reading GALVESTON. As a writer of non-fiction, I admire the creativity and imagination of fiction writers, especially historical fiction due to the extensive research often involved. Suzanne is a master of the art." - Catherine Garcia-Prats, renowned author and lecturer on family relationships, Houston, Texas

"I just finished reading the wonderful book, AFTERMATH. This was so much more than the historical account of a terrible disaster. Ms. Morris propelled us into the lives of her characters. I wanted to read it all in one session!" - Ginette Levac, Hot Springs Village, AR

"AFTERMATH is Suzanne Morris' best novel ever. The painting of the scenes and the feelings expressed by the narrator are excellent. I loved the book, and especially the poetry at the end. Beautiful. I hope Ms. Morris never stops writing." - Carol Ford, Baytown, Texas

"I read AFTERMATH on Christmas day. What a remarkable book. It affected me on so many levels.... Suzanne Morris' perspective is phenomenal. My parents were both first responders to the New London explosion. I knew three different students at the school that day. Not until the first reunion did they confide in me this information, after knowing each for 15 years. It continues to shock me that they never spoke of it.... Ms. Morris' intimate knowledge of the Scottish Brigade is fascinating. The conflicts Delys encountered (in this organization) were powerful and so intuitive...the passages evocative. I am sure this novel will be a huge success. I enjoyed it immensely. I know the research had to be both heartbreaking and exhausting." - Pat Walker Graham, Jacksonville, Texas

"I just finished AFTERMATH. I do most of my reading at night after I go to bed, and though I would tell myself, just a few more pages, I could not put the book down. Amazing writing; and what a twist at the end! I am telling people about AFTERMATH and all the books Ms. Morris has written." - Millie Warden, Cypress, Texas

"I absolutely loved AFTERMATH! Although I had never heard of the London School tragedy before, its effect on Delys captivated me. My heart ached for her at times, rejoiced with her at times, and at other times I even felt as if I were in her skin. Never before had a fictional character affected me in such a way. .... Only a dedicated Brigadier could have written so perfectly about what the S. F. Austin High School Scottish Brigade truly was to its members. EVERYTHING, indeed! .... I will always wonder what happened to Bruce and wish for his return and reunion with Delys. In the meantime, it appears that Delys has quite a future as a poet. Her poems are touching and enable her to express her strong feelings in a gentle manner. My thanks to Suzanne Morris for writing this compelling book." - Rilda Whitmire, Houston, Texas

"I was seven when the New London explosion occurred, and today is the first time I have ever seen this aged newsreel reporting the actual event, which was fascinating to me." (Note: see link to Red River Public Radio interview above). "As I watched the nurses and doctors on the scene, I thought of my parents. My mother was an RN, and father an MD. I wish I knew for sure whether my father went to the scene or not. I recall that area medically trained volunteers went. He didn't discuss it much with our family, I think for fear it would frighten his children, four of whom were in the age range of the school children at the New London school. Suzanne Morris has an amazing gift for telling an engaging story and I absolutely loved reading AFTERMATH!" - Mary Alice Bone, MD, Jacksonville, Texas

"I finished AFTERMATH last week. What a unique work, beautifully done! I knew very little about the New London tragedy. I was actually reading one evening when the news came on and it was the 80th anniversary, complete with pictures and newscasts. Very timely. .... Ms. Morris has honored the Scottish Brigade in writing, and done so in such an interesting way. I think others will see now into the heart and sounds of what we (who were members) know. I was interested in seeing how one with such a troubled youth could have drilled beside my mother in those years. I assumed that at the time all of the young women had mothers, dads, siblings, just like me, and lived in a protected, typical family. Well, now that Delys opened my eyes, I can think back on so many who did not. Very reflective. And Brigade provided that "place." My thanks to Suzanne Morris for writing a book with such personal meaning." - Marsha Eckermann, Houston, Texas


Paperback: 314 pages
Publisher: Stephen F. Austin University Press (September, 2016),
Distributor: Texas A&M Consortium,
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1622881168
ISBN-13: 978-1622881161
Available for purchase at: Barnes & Noble
Also available from SFA Press, use code 3B for a 30% discount, add S/H: $6 for first book, $1 for each additional book.


Suzanne Morris, author

Suzanne Morris is the author of seven previous novels, including GALVESTON, KEEPING SECRETS, SKYCHILD, WIVES AND MISTRESSES, and The Clearharbour Trilogy. For more information go to the author's main website at


Ms. Morris is now scheduling appearances for 2018.

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018, 11:00 a.m., featured speaker, Carthage Book Club Spring Event, Carthage, Texas

Other dates for 2018 are pending. Postings will follow.


Suzanne Page Morris

P. O. Box 379, Rusk, TX 75785

Phone: 903-683-9525


Web:, and

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