21 June 2011

Book Review: About Last Night by Adele Parks

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?
Despite being a huge chick lit fan, I only read my first Adele Parks book last year, called Men I've Loved Before, and I really enjoyed it. I had previously tried to read Parks' book and couldn't get into them, and I'm not sure what changed last year but I couldn't put that book down. When I received a copy of Parks' new book through the mail, I was quite excited to read it and see if she would be able to make me enjoy another of her books! I quite like the cover, although the minty green is a little bland, and for me there's a little too much text and not enough illustrations, but either way, I got stuck in and couldn't wait to read it.

Let me start by saying that if you aren't a fan of books heavy on the narrative, then this book won't be your cup of tea. There is barely any speech between the characters in the book, instead using a third person narrative to tell the tale and voice the thoughts of the characters. This was a quite effective tool, allowing the reader to see the bigger picture of the story yet also get up close and personal with the characters, but personally I would have preferred a little more speech and interaction in there, and this is why I've knocked a star off the rating of this one. I found it picked up pace a little more when characters spoke to each other, and was a little slow in the narrative parts but it was still enjoyable.

The book relies on the reader wanting to find out more about the mess going on in Stephanie's life, and her judgments and whether or not she makes the right ones, so from that perspective it's an interesting read. I did like the character of Stephanie - she is a woman trying to run the perfect home and make everything go smoothly with her children and the relationship with her husband Julian. But when she finds out something about Julian that makes her question everything, Stephanie does something out of character and calls on friend Pip for help, asking for her to cover for her. Pip was my favourite one in the book - she's easy to relate to, a single mother to a daughter, a talented textiles designer but unlucky in love, and suddenly very put upon by her best friend.

As I was reading, I couldn't help but think what I would do if I was in that situation, in both Steph's and Pip's shoes. The moral dilemmas are present throughout the book, and I didn't see a lot of the things that did occur in the book coming which was great, as sometimes these stories can become a tad predictable. Parks keeps throwing the book in one direction and veering off in another, and this had the effect of keeping me hooked as I wanted to find out what turn Steph and Pip would take next. There's a bit of guesswork along the way too, and it took  me a while to make a link that was probably meant to be obvious from the start but suddenly jumped out at me, leaving me thinking "Oh right!" lol. I didn't expect the ending either, and it's fab to pick up a book and have something totally different happen that what you had expected from the start, so full credit to Parks for really delivering on that side. Another interesting point for me is that the time frame of the story is only 5 days, yet Parks crams a lot into that time and consequently, everything feels very "real time" as you're reading, much like the TV show 24 actually! This added an authenticity to it that I really enjoyed, and keeps you on edge as you know things have to start happening sooner rather than later!

It's a big chunk of a book, being that it's nearly 400 pages and in hardback format, but it certainly makes it a book you will want to curl up with of an evening. There are some great characters in here you'll be rooting for, a story that keeps you hooked because you NEED to find out how things will turn out and who will make what decision. As I previously mentioned, for me it was a little too heavy on the narrative and needed breaking up in parts a tad, but as that's my only fault for the whole book, I think that's pretty good going! I would definitely recommend this book, it was a joy to read and I love how Parks uncovers the story bit by bit, enticing you that bit more to keep reading! Fantastic.


  1. It's good to hear that you enjoyed this one, have it sitting on my shelf!

  2. I can't wait to read this, It's out on thursday and I can't wait to get my hands on it! :)

  3. Sounds good. I've still got her last one in my reading pile so think I need to get my skates on and read it seeing as the next one is on it's way ;)