It’s publication day today for Last Night, the seventh novel from the wonderful Mhairi McFarlane. If you look at any of the online book retail sites for this book you will see it’s described as ‘the most hilarious and heart-breaking romcom of 2021’ and my goodness that is right on both counts. This is straight onto my list of favourite books for this year!
First of all, what’s the book about?
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…
This is one of these books that it’s hard to review without giving too much away and I do want everyone to discover everything about it for themselves as they read.
As you can tell from the blurb though, this book is about a very close knit group of friends and about a shocking event which devastates them. Now, if you have read Mhairi McFarlane’s books before you may be thinking that this sounds a bit darker than her other books and to a certain extent you’d be right. There is a lot about the shock of grief in this book, the kind that just hits you out of the blue when you remember over again about the loss and everything that entails. Mhairi McFarlane has written about this so sensitively and insightfully and the friends’ grief was almost palpable.
Eve is the central character in the book and it’s very much her loss that we focus on. As well as the person she is grieving for, she is also grieving the loss of the person she thought she knew. After the death, it turns out that the friends did not know each other as well as they thought they did, that there were long held secrets between them and that is almost as devastating for Eve.
I was surprised (and delighted) to find that Edinburgh is significant setting for part of the book and indeed so is Portobello! One of the places which is important is, I’m pretty sure, the house on the Prom that until recently was the Dalriada pub.
Mhairi McFarlane is such a brilliant story teller that even though sadness is a major theme in the book, it’s not overwhelming and is balanced beautifully with themes of friendship and hope. The close knit group of friends were fabulous to read about and I was especially fond of Justin. There’s a character who is just awful, maybe more than one now that I think about it, but Hester was great fun to read about and she’ll have you aghast at some of the things she says. So there’s plenty of Mhairi McFarlane’s trademark warmth and humour.
And of course, there is romance too and what a gorgeous romance it is. No, I’m not telling you any more about the love interest, you’ll just need to buy the book yourself to find out! Every time I read one of Mhairi McFarlane’s books I think it’s her best yet and I have to say that again with this one. The characters are flawed and real and you will take them to heart. The story is so beautifully told, such an emotional read. It made me sad but it also made me very happy. It’s a wonderful tribute to friendship and the kind of uplifting read that I think we all need right now. Don’t just take my word for it, buy it and find out for yourself.
My thanks to the publishers Harper Collins for my review copy of the book from Netgalley. Last Night is out now in paperback and ebook formats. Do support an independent bookshop if you are able to. You will also find the book in many supermarkets and you’ll find buying links for many retailers on the Harper Collins website here: Last Night
About the author
Sunday Times bestselling author Mhairi McFarlane was born in Scotland in 1976 and her unnecessarily confusing name is pronounced Vah-Ree.
After some efforts at journalism, she started writing novels and her first book, You Had Me At Hello, was an instant success. She’s now written seven books and she lives in Nottingham with a man and a cat.