The Last Night is Cesca Major’s second novel and I have to say right now that I lived and breathed this novel (even seeping into my dreams). Publishing today in digital and paperback format, The Last Night is a must read and one I recommend you do not miss.
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 2919 KB
Print Length: 318 pages
Publisher: Corvus (3 Nov. 2016)
In a quiet coastal village, Irina spends her days restoring furniture, passing the time in peace and hiding away from the world. A family secret, long held and never discussed, casts a dark shadow and Irina chooses to withdraw into her work. When an antique bureau is sent to her workshop, the owner anonymous, Irina senses a history to the object that makes her uneasy. As Irina begins to investigate the origins of the piece, she unearths the secrets it holds within…
Decades earlier in the 1950s, another young woman kept secrets. Her name was Abigail. Over the course of one summer, she fell in love, and dreamed of the future. But Abigail could not know that a catastrophe loomed, and this event would change the course of many lives for ever…
I was hooked from the beginning. Yes, from that first brief window into August 1952 I was intrigued. Jenny’s reaction really is palpable. All my senses were drawn in.
This is followed by a total change of scene, 3 months earlier in 1952. Abigail and best friend Mary are riding their bikes down to Bristol harbour. Although quite a light hearted scene, the damage WWII has left on buildings and people is very much in evidence. I loved Abi and Mary’s open and warm friendship. It was clear they had gone through some experiences together and had a strong bond.
Next, we find ourselves in 2016 with Irina in her workshop. Introversion and withdrawal come to mind. Irina has experienced something life changing but we only know from a hint that all is not as it should be.
This alternating narrative works really well in my opinion. So much intrigue with each woman. I found it very easy to become emotionally attached to both. The innocence of Abi and her story unfolding in 1952 while Irina’s pain is from the past and something she is trying to deal with in 2016. My moods really were affected by what they were going through. Richard and Mary also narrate as part of Abi’s timeline and both give added depth to the maelstrom of emotions. I felt very strongly connected to them all.
When Abi moves to her sister Connie’s in Devon, there’s something amiss. Who doesn’t see their family for a decade after getting married? I know travelling was harder in those days but still, TEN YEARS! I had my doubts about Larry from the beginning but some scenes are so raw I had to put the book down and go off to do something else, building myself up to carry on (this is a positive thing!).
The Georgian bureau is the key for both women in such different ways. A great juxtaposition. The scenes with Irina in her workshop are atmospheric. I honestly had goosebumps.
Cesca Major really knows how to capture your imagination and emotions. Short chapters build the suspense and weaving this fiction through a true story makes the whole catastrophe come alive. I have savoured every single word. Familial/romantic relationships, disaster, lies, loss, truth and power took me to the depths emotionally and make this a read that will stay with me for a long time.
The Last Night would be amazing on the screen. I would love to see this as a movie.
It’s a Keeper!
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