Books

Book Review: Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane

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I received an ARC of this book via Harper Collins and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Blurb

Two best friends.

One missed chance.

And a night that changes everything.

Eve, Justin, Susie and Ed have been friends since they were eighteen. Now in their 30s, the four are still as close as ever, Thursday pub quiz night is still sacred, and Eve is still secretly in love with Ed.

Maybe Eve should have moved on by now, but she can’t stop thinking about what could have been. And she knows Ed sometimes thinks about it too.

Then one night, in an instant, all their lives change forever. And, as Eve learns she didn’t know her friends as well as she thought, she also discovers she isn’t the only person keeping secrets…

My Thoughts

As with all of the Mhairi McFarlane books I’ve read (I’ve read Don’t You Forget About Me and If I Never Met You ) I was completely taken in by the cover: simple, eye catching, cute. Of course, as with any book I’ve ever read, I should’ve known not to judge this book by its cover.

I expected a cute, heartwarming story with a little bit of bite to it. What I got, in the end, was quite different.

The book follows Eve, a thirty something whose feelings for one of her best friends – Ed – come to the forefront when he proposes to his girlfriend, Hester, a woman Eve and her three friends don’t like (and honestly I could see why!). You’d think from that brief description this was a love story but – as you read on and the story takes a shocking, heartbreaking turn – you realise there’s more to it than that.

I loved the friendships in this book. I used to be all about the love stories in books but, as I’ve got older (and possibly more cynical), I’ve really come to value the other versions of love, like friendships and family relationships. The group jelled so well and I really enjoyed seeing different personalities together, plus the pub quiz scenes reminded me of simpler pre-pandemic times with my mates, arguing over questions we’d inevitably get wrong in the end 😂.

Eve is a great protagonist. I think McFarlane is great at creating characters and Eve is no exception. She is witty, loyal and kind and I loved the moments where she looked back on her relationships and friendships in the past. She is flawed, as most protagonists are, but the emotional journey she goes on in the book ultimately makes her a stronger, more confident person which was an absolute joy to read.

I think we’ve all experienced a fair bit of loss and grief this last year or so, whether it be mourning the loss of someone we knew or feeling the same for the people we see or read about in the news, and McFarlane is excellent at portraying the many stages and emotions you feel after someone passes away. It still remains that I’ve never cried at a book (mad, I know) but the honest, raw way McFarlane depicts grief for her characters is definitely an emotional read.

I initially assumed this book would be a romance but it wasn’t..not exactly. I loved reading the scenes from Eve and Ed’s past, as I think it will resonate with a lot of us (we’ve all had one crush – or several – in the past that just won’t work out, no matter how much we wanted it to). I think there’s a beautiful contrast in the present, as the love between Ed and Eve is remains but it’s much softer, much more about helping the other person navigate life after loss. The actual romance that came about in the book wasn’t unexpected and – though the early predicting of this pairing did spoil this book for me (a little bit) – I loved reading how, after loss (both the death of a friend and the death, so to speak, of a relationship that never really had the chance to get started), Eve finds herself a new kind of love whilst never forgetting the one she lost.

Last Night was not what I expected. At all. However, it’s an insightful, emotional story about friendship, love, loss and betrayal. I can definitely see this book in my top reads of this year so – if that’s not encouragement for everyone to pick this book up – I don’t know what is.

Click the image above to buy Last Night from a range of retailers

You can follow Mhairi McFarlane on:

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