This is my first of a book by Adele Parks and I can now safely say that it won't be my last. It's like chicklit for grown-ups, i.e. it's moved past the shopping for handbags and giggling at the water-cooler and on to school-runs, clandestine meetings in the theatre and sustaining life-long friendships.
Pip and Steph have been friends since school and are still in each others lives. Pip is the gregarious one, the one who lives in constant chaos but is great fun to be around and Steph is the steady, dependable, sensible one; the one who never sets a foot out of line - that is until she does and asks Pip to cover for her (which means lying to the police about where she was). As well as Pip and Steph, the cast of brilliantly drawn characters include Kirsten, a gorgeous, glamorous young girl who has no choice but to work in a London firm as Daddy has stopped dishing out the dosh (but don't feel too sorry for her, she sleeps with half the Directors of the business - well one of them is bound to fall in love with her, leave their wife and keep her in the life of luxury she so deperately wants, right?). I don't want to give too much away about Kirsten or what her role in the book is, as it's always more fun to find out for yourself. However, it's suffice to say that I found Kirsten so hideous and shallow a person that I am really struggling to believe that there are people out there like her - there must be, but I never want to meet them. All credit to Parks for making her more human and me feel sorry for her by the end though (grrr!)
What I liked about this book, aside from the character development, was the fact that I was kept guessing about what had happened and what was about to happen enough to keep me interested and turning the pages. There's moral dilemmas, betrayal and you will undoubtably question yourself as to what you would do in this situation. Park has done a wonderful job in showing us her characters rather than just telling us about them, and it is easy to feel the tension and dilemmas as they do.
Verdict: Bags of personality, a fun read without being frothy. Recommended.
on 4 May 2012
Adele's writing has taken me through my 20s when I first read Playing Away, and found her insights so on track, on trend, and often provoking some deeper thought long after I turned the last page. Game Over was probably my favourite of her first few books - in the time when we were all single, out having fun, or just married and still filling our weeks with hard work, drinks in hip London bars, and travel to exciting destinations that were in no way "family friendly" - Adele tapped into our reality tv obsession before it even became an obsession!
And with About Last Night, we've come, not quite, full circle - to married life, to grey areas, to "family friendly", to juggling priorities and finding precious time to nuture our friendships. About Last Night really nailed the kind of relationships that we are having now in our thirties and forties. Marriage is not the happy ending, but then it is not bad either! Of course, it's dynamic, and we grow up, we learn, we love, we make mistakes, we disappoint, we triumph, and sometimes we just coast.... and then we get a wake up call! I love how Adele navigates through these areas with truth, and with humour. The characters are rich and credible, they are you and me, but of course, for the purposes of chic-lit formula, they have more curve balls thrown at them than we would in a 3 month window. My experience reading Adele's books is that she uses the chic-lit formula to its very best advantage - to put an idea on the table, to get us talking about an issue, and there it is - How far would you go for your best friend?
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.
on 15 June 2012
I read the reviews on the cover aswell as the blurb and prepared myself for something a bit more interesting than the usual chick-lit. Sadly I was disappointed.
I didn't particularly enjoy the writing style, maybe the author thought it would add depth to the characters but it didn't work for me. The characters seemed quite dull - Stephanie with her wonderful life that was a fraud as her devoted husband was playing away from home; scatty Pip who manages to get a contract with Selfridges making bunting - it was all so cath kidston/shabby chic/middle class i.e. dull as dishwasher. The affair girl (forgotten her name) seemed contrived and the male characters poorly developed. The story is straightforward really but it took forever to get there, with nothing else interesting happening on the sidelines.
There was too much description that at times was just irrelevant and I found myself skipping paragraphs.
It's the first time I've read anything by this author and the last unfortunately.
And just why did Julian have an affair? Oh yes he was bored - I can see why. And why did Steph have this thing with Subhash? Oh yes, she was bored too. So, two rich bored people who have a great life but want something else - I'm not rooting for them, are you?
on 6 July 2011
Wow! This was a tremendously gripping and insighful book about friendship that I thoroughly enjoyed.
It is the authors 11th book and she writes wonderfully about the modern world that we live in and the characters are very real and honestly portrayed. The story centres on two life long best friends, Steph & Pip and focuses on how their freindship is put to the test when Steph asks Pip for an alibi, without explaining why she needs to lie. I don't want to give any spoilers, but believe me when I say that the story has some great twists and really made me think how far would I go for my friends.
Adele is a big name author and it's clear to see why she is at the top of her game when you read this book.
Excellent and highly recommended. 5 stars.
About Last Night centers around a topic that I'm sure is going to be widely debated among readers after devouring this book: Would you lie for your best friend if they asked you to? Some women would answer yes, best friends help each other out, but what happens when it comes to not only telling a lie to your best friends family and friends, but also to the police? This then enters a new ballpark completely.
Steph is a dependable, caring person, with what seems to be a dream life. She has her gorgeous successful husband Julian and her beautiful children, she lives in a stunning spacious house, she has everything she could ever want. Steph and Pip have been thick as thieves since they were eight years old, they tell each other everything. That is, until an accident happens, leaving everybody shocked, and with no clue of how it happened, Steph approaches Pip and utters the words "I need you to say that I was with you."
This is a fantastic read exploring just how far you would go to protect your best friend, and questioning how much we really know about those closest to us. I found it a fast paced read, I couldn't put it down and I desperately wanted to know what Steph was trying to cover up. Steph and Pip were very relatable as best friends, I could see parts of my own friendships in theirs and that helped make the book that bit more enjoyable.
The side characters were brilliant additions to the story and really helped you to learn more about the main characters. The only criticism I would have is that I would have loved to have seen more of Subhash, I particularly enjoyed the parts he was in and would have liked an extra few pages of him!
After I had finished the story, I gave it to my Nan to read, and she telephoned me the very next morning telling me that the story was so thrilling that she could not put it down and had to stay up in bed reading it all night! I think it is safe to say that my Nan and I will be buying her future books!
on 23 June 2012
This book had such good promise, but just didn't deliver for me. The plot sounded good and interesting for me and made me wonder what had she done for her to need a alibi, and when I was found out, I was thinking is that it? I couldn't relate to Stephanie at all, I liked Pip for trying to better herself but hated her selfishness always wanting something from Stephanie. I had kind of sussed what was going to happen and who was involved which was disappointing. I do like Adele Parks and have read and enjoyed most of her other books but have to say that I won't be as eager to read her other books now
on 17 April 2012
I've read almost all of Adele Parks' books and I'm a big fan, so naturally, as soon as About Last Night came out, I snapped it up. I'm into books that make me laugh, aren't too serious and guarantee that I won't spend the next six months depressed and munching chocolate because they've upset me so much, which is why I'm so into her work. However, About Last Night is quite different to her other books and yet I still adored it. It touches on situations between close friends and long-term relationships in a way that I've never read before and concentrates equally on each of these aspects. Any woman will relate to this story because friendships and romantic relationships are the forefront of almost all of our minds - we are women, after all! The pace of the story is spot on, the words flow beautifully and personally, if I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it. It took me a week to finish and the only reason it took me that long was purely because I wanted to pace myself as I was enjoying it so much and wanted it to last! This, for me, is one of Adele's best books yet - I've given it five stars and cannot wait for her to bring out more.
About Last Night by Adele Parks has been hanging around my wish list for ages. Again this is the first book I am reading from this author and like The White Queen it was an independent purchase, (well as independent as a purchase can be in this age of aggressive marketing) I heard good things so decided to give her a try. I did enjoy this book but in all honesty I found it repetitive at times labouring the same point and I can't quite put my finger on it but I'm not moved to buy her other books at the moment. This may change if hype pushes another few titles but I definitely was not left wanting more of this one.
I suppose I found the characters frustrating at times and likeable but it felt mundane reading about their lives and childcare options etc. I think maybe Adele Parks writes in a genre I don't find particularly intriguing, maybe it is I who needs more blood, guts and intrigue to keep me entertained. It was a heartwarming romance and not a bad read as such but just lacked a bit of sparkle for me.
on 23 October 2011
Uniquely, this book is set over a five-day time period. In these five days, lives changes, friendships and relationships are tested and crimes are considered and committed. These five days centre on two main characters; Steph and Pip.
It isn't predictable, and throughout the book I often wondered which direction Parks would take it. I always appreciate that uncertainty, as there is nothing worse than it being blindingly obvious what is going to happen.
There isn't much dialogue, but instead the story is told through third person narrative. I know a lot of readers have struggled with these, finding that it doesn't move quick enough and there is too much reminiscing. However, I enjoyed the leisurely pace which managed to hold my attention due to the twists and turns that Parks provides at just the right moments.
There is something unique about this story, and it was one which I enjoyed immensely! I'll certainly be checking out more of Adele Parks' books in the future!