Book review – About Last Night by Adele Parks

30 Jun

For thirty years, best friends Stephanie and Philippa have been practically inseparable. There’s nothing they would not do for one another. Until a few simple words change everything.

‘I need you to say that I was with you.’

Steph, eternally solid, considerate and dependable, is begging her best friend to lie to the police as she’s desperately trying to conceal two shocking secrets to protect her family. Pip, self-consigned to the role of scatty, frivolous hot-head is overwhelmed; she’s normally the one asking for help in a crisis although never anything as catastrophic as this. Both women have always believed that friendship is built on mutual selflessness, compromise and trust. Are those beliefs now to be tested beyond endurance?

Would you lie to protect your best friend? That’s the basic premise around which Adele Park’s latest release is based, but this story is so much more than that. Set over just five days, the plot is carefully layered and with the inclusion of seamless ‘flashbacks’ as background information, I felt as a reader that I knew the main characters really well almost immediately.

I was drawn to Pip straight away. She’s cast as the thin, pretty but scatty and disorganised single mum half of the friendship in contrast to mum of three, Steph who is super organised, totally reliable and leading a seemingly perfect life with a wonderful husband, three children and big house.  At first I was sympathetic to Pip and I marvelled at Steph but as the book progressed the real depth in both characters stood out and it was clear that both women were much more complex than first appearances might suggest.

About Last Night is very much a character driven book examining the relationship between Steph and Pip as one of them hits crisis point. The book is written in the third person but Adele Parks really knows the mindsets of her leading ladies and builds up an impressive depth to her characters through their thoughts, actions and reactions to the situations they find themselves in. Even the minor characters are spot on and certainly make an impact of the plot – I thought man-eater Kirsten was brilliant – her comments and thoughts made me laugh and horrified me at the same time!

Adele Parks really is an observant writer and there is lots of detail to the story which makes it feel very realistic and as I was reading I almost felt like I knew the characters better than they knew themselves. This didn’t stop them surprising me though and I enjoyed the fact that just as I’d made my mind up how the plot was going to go my assumptions were challenged! I don’t want to give the storyline away in my review but the plot really did grip me, building up to a dramatic discovery and then charting the aftermath and reactions of those involved. The position Steph puts Pip in is incredibly difficult one and I admired the way she dealt with it.

Although Adele’s book would probably still be classed as ‘chick lit’, About Last Night certainly doesn’t fall into the ‘light and fluffy’ or ‘romantic comedy’ end of the ‘chick lit’ spectrum and it reminded me of some of Lisa Jewell’s more recent work in that it deals with the serious side of relationships (both the romantic kind and the friendship variety). I’d highly recommend it if you are looking for contemporary fiction that will make you think, with wonderfully in-depth characters and a page turner of a plot.

4/5

About Last Night was published on 23rd June and I’d like to thank Headline for sending me a copy to review.

You can find out more about Adele and her books at: http://www.adeleparks.com/

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