Review: Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane


Title: Last Night

Author: Mhairi McFarlane

Published: 1st April 2021, HarperCollins UK

Status: Read April 2021 courtesy HarperCollinsUK/Netgalley

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My Thoughts:

 

“That night was the last night of The Past, and we had no idea.”

 

I sat down to get a start on Mhairi McFarlane’s newest release and turned the final page just as my husband put his key in the door. The house was dark, the oven was cold, and I realised I hadn’t moved for the past three hours or so. While I very much enjoyed McFarlane’s previous novels, If I Never Met You, It’s Not Me, It’s You, and Don’t You Forget About Me, Last Night just felled me.

Though both romantic and funny, Last Night is much more than the romcom it’s marketed as. It’s a contemporary, captivating story exploring friendship, loss, secrets and love, told with McFarlane’s distinctive blend of insight, heart, and wit.

It would be far too easy to spoil the plot, which is why I’m avoiding my usual introduction to a review, but I can say it centres around four best friends since childhood – Eve, Susan, Justin and Ed, now all aged in their mid-thirties, faced with a shattering event that challenges their comfortable status quo.

There’s an authenticity and nuance to McFarlane’s characters that just appeals so strongly to me, even though I don’t necessarily have anything in common with them. Last Night unfolds from the perspective of Eve, single (and secretly in love with Ed), with an unfulfilling job, but nevertheless content with her life, largely due to her close relationships with Susan, Justin and Ed. The dynamic between the four friends is enviable, though not without its complications, which are brought to the fore in the wake of profound tragedy.

I’m not claiming Last Night is flawless, nor will it appeal to everyone, but it was near perfect for me for so many reasons. The author has a talent for natural dialogue and great timing, and I love McFarlane’s sharp, dry wit, but it’s her ability to evoke a full range of emotions that ensures I become invested in the story. I laughed and shed a tear, sighed and held my breath.

It should be obvious by now that I adored Last Night, its going to be a favourite for this year.

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Available from HarperCollins UK

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Review: If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

 

 

Title: If I Never Met You

Author: Mhairi McFarland

Published: 15th December 2019, HarperCollins Australia

Status: Read December 2019, courtesy HarperCollins/Netgalley

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My Thoughts:

A delightful romantic comedy, If I Never Met You is Mhairi McFarlane’s sixth novel.

Laurie is devastated when her boyfriend of eighteen years suddenly announces he is leaving her, claiming the need to ‘find’ himself, and then completely shattered when she learns just weeks later that Dan not only has a new girlfriend, but that the girlfriend is pregnant.

Desperate to retain a shred of dignity, especially given she and Dan still have to work together in the same law firm, Laurie strikes a deal with a colleague. Jamie needs help to rehabilitate his reputation as a lothario to have a shot at making partner, and being seen to enjoy a new relationship with a handsome and successful man might make Dan rethink his decision to breakup with Laurie. A fake relationship will benefit them both…as long as no one ever finds out.

The bare bones of the plot of If I Never Met You is not by any means unique, but the execution by McFarlane has real appeal. Yes this is a romantic comedy that exploits the enemies to lovers trope, but there is also a surprising depth to the story.

In particular, McFarlane’s characters move beyond the expected stereotypes, subverting them in ways that are thoughtful and realistic. I felt as if I could relate to Laurie, even though I don’t share her experience, and empathised with her feelings and behaviour. On first impression, Jamie appears to be a typical ‘Alpha’ hero, but it quickly becomes clear that appearances can be deceiving.

I love McFarlane’s sense of humour, which can be very dry, but also makes judicious use of the cheap laugh. I also really admire the way in which the author utilises a full range of emotion without becoming too farcical, nor too angsty, it’s a difficult balancing act that she gets just right.

If I Met Never You is witty, heartfelt and utterly engaging.

Read an Extract

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Available from HarperCollins Australia

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Also by Mhairi McFarlane reviewed at Book’d Out

 

Review: Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

 

 

Title: Don’t You Forget About Me

Author: Mhairi McFarlane

Published: September 10th 2019, William Morrow

Status: Read September 2019 courtesy William Morrow/Edelweiss

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My Thoughts:

This is probably the first time I’ve chosen to read a book because I can’t read the title without wanting to burst into song. The Breakfast Club was my favourite movie as a teen, and ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ by Simple Minds plays during the film’s closing moments, as John Bender (ie. Judd Nelson) punches the air.

Mhairi McFarlane’s book doesn’t really have any connection to the movie, though the story does begin in highschool as Georgina falls in love with her classmate, Lucas, only for the relationship to end abruptly. Nearly twelve years later Georgina is having a tough week. First she is fired from her waitressing job, and next finds her boyfriend in bed with his personal assistant, then when she is offered a great new job, she discovers that the co-owner of the business is none other than Lucas, who seems not to recognise her.

While marketed as a romcom, and I don’t dispute that Don’t You Forget About Me is both romantic and funny, the term doesn’t give McFarlane the credit she deserves for the serious issues she explores in this novel. I really enjoyed the humour that moves between the dry and somewhat slapstick, but the story also packs quite an emotional wallop that I didn’t expect. Key is McFarlane’s examination of Georgina’s experiences at the hands of men behaving badly.

I really liked Georgina and found her to be authentic and relatable. She is funny, though she often uses humour as a defence, and strong, even if she doesn’t recognise it. While she doesn’t get much emotional support from her family, (gotta love her Nan though), her friends are wonderful. But there is no denying that Georgina is stuck, and needs to find a way to move forward.

Witty, heartfelt, and moving, I enjoyed Don’t You Forget About Me. Don’t ‘walk on by’ this one.

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Available from HarperCollins US

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And because I can’t resist- enjoy