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3.8 out of 5 stars
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3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 22 June 2010
There is definately the touch of the Ian McEwan about this book. Like the other author, the prose is extremely well written and the narrative so exciting that it was really difficult to put this book down. Like McEwan, Morrison has the knack of unsettling you and I hurtled through the pages as I was anxious to discover what exactly happened to the characters in the end, even though none were particularly sympathetic - the narrator being particularly cringe-worthy.

The story concerns two couple who are reunited for a Bank Holiday weekend on the East coast with the two male characters being old friends from university. What I loved about the story was how the author managed to get right inside the head of his principle creation and conjure situations where we eventually start to realise that things aren't exactly what they seem. In the beginning we are offered glimpses of the main character's past and, one by one, these start to piece together into the jigsaw of the main thread of the novel, only that the picture we are trying to put together might not necessarily be the one that we had started off with. Consequently, the story becomes increasingly more exciting as the clues start to fit together and the last thirty or so pages had to be finished off late at night as I could not bare the suspense!! Not going to say any more as I don't want to spoil anyone's enjoyment but hope this is sufficient to prompt your curiousity.

Blake Morrison is not an author I had heard of before and I was prompted to buy this book after reading an excellent review in my Sunday newspaper. I am glad that I followed my interest up and, as the other reviwer stated, agree that this would make an excellent film or drama. Modern literature is a bit of a mixed bag for me. I like a good story but I hate pulp fiction. "The last weekend" is well crafted with some wonderful descriptions but is a thriller at the same time. All in all, I would thoroughly recommend this book although buyers should be aware that they will want to finish the thing once they have got their teeth into the first few chapters! Really enjoyed this book.
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on 16 August 2010
The book takes place over a bank holiday weekend where two couples share a weekend in a country house. Ollie & his wife Daisy - glamourous and wealthy, invite former university friend Ian and his wife Em(considerably poorer and "ugly toads" compared to the golden couple) for the weekend on the basis they have something important to tell them.

There is a sort of feel good feel to it to start with (think This Life, Peter's Friends, The Priory (Royal Court Play)) but as things unfold old rivalries and unfinished business becomes exposed.

It is a fairly short read and pretty page turning - I read it in a day which says alot for it's plot pace. The book is unusual because it doesn't patronise the reader - which is a real strength. So when a scene is described from one character's perspective that may not be all it seems to be, rather than having another character explain what actually happened (eg. Bret Easton Ellis Rules of Attraction), the reader is left to work it out and form his/her own conclusions.

The only real weakness in the book is the ending which was to me unsatisfying, very disappointing given the strength of the book and several of the ending strands were implausible. It's a shame and this is the only reason it gets 4 stars from me - otherwise would have been a clear 5.

It's kind of sad that authors can't include "alternative endings" in future editions of books a la DVD extras!! This book could be made perfect!

Good read though and would recommend nonetheless. Ideal reading for a weekend away.
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on 19 May 2010
I loved this book. A relatively quick read and you can sort of guess what is going to happen well before the end - but not quite. You can feel how stiflingly hot this August weekend is. The strength of this book is the realistic characters. It is uncomfortable to be in the head of the narrator and it isn't until the end that you realise how warped his perception of events is. This book would make a great film or TV drama.
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on 31 August 2013
This is the first time I have read a book by this author and it will not be the last.
A well written novel with believable characters. The scene setting, character construction and plot are well crafted. I particularly enjoyed the way the author made my emotions, in relation to the main character, swing from liking him, feeling sorry for him, thinking he is a loser, to thinking he is underhand. A true to life weekend experience which could have happened to any of us in these unfortunate circumstances. I am looking forward to reading more of Blake Morrison's work.
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on 29 April 2014
I read this after watching the television adaptation and as is usually the case, the book is more nuanced and convincing. That said, the casting is very apt. It's the story of two friendly couples on a weekend break in remote-ish East Anglia: Ollie and Daisy (upper-middle class, attractive) and Ian and Em (lower-middle class, and in Ian's words 'ugly toads'). Nothing is quite as it seems, however, as our narrator is Ian and he is classically unreliable. The story starts slowly and gathers pace as more is revealed, until the reader doubts that anything is really as Ian describes.

If that doesn't sound much like 'Othello', of which this is meant to be a reworking, that's because it doesn't really work on that level. Ian (Iago) is jealous of Ollie (Othello) despite the efforts of his sensible wife Em (Emilia) but that's about where the similarities end. Iago isn't unreliable: he's quite open about his machinations. Ultimately Ian doesn't succeed in corrupting Ollie either.

It is nonetheless a decent page-turning read, keeping the reader hooked on Ian's self-delusion and establishing an atmosphere of foreboding, with Badingley already associated with tragic memories for two of the characters. It's dark and involving, and while few would conclude that Ian is anything other than seriously deranged, it is also an indictment of empty aspiration and hollow values.
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on 8 September 2015
Good read - hard to put down - wish Morrison would write some more books - but he's particularly good at the poignant and sorrowful situations I loved his books on his parents - as my dad had died at the time of "And when did you last see your Father" - I could identify with so much of what he wrote then. I look forward to more from Blake Morrison - Definitely a book that you will want to read on to the end.
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on 5 March 2015
Bought the book because I loved the film. Found the book inconsistent in small ways. First, the main character is described as paunchy but then he's been working out all summer and in good shape which is inconsistent, as though the author forgot how he described the character.. There are changes in the marriage that conflict with earlier information. Preferred the film, but the book did leave a doubt about what actually happened because the book's description conflicted with the film's peak, leaving less doubt about events.
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on 10 May 2011
I read Blake Morrison's previous novel, 'South Of The River' a few years ago. I enjoyed it, but am now struggling to recall much about it. This is a shorter and far more memorable read. Morrison's use of an unreliable narrator is the best I have ever come across in contemporary fiction. The reader realises only gradually that all is not as it seems. Vital snippets of information are dropped casually into the narrative. The author builds the tension superbly. To say much more would give away the plot, but I loved this book, and am still thinking about it several days after finishing it. Highly recommended.
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For a writer of Blake Morrison's stature, this seems a curiously lightweight novel - airport fiction for the middle classes. The scenario is familiar enough: a group of forty-somethings spend a weekend together at a cottage in rural Norfolk. At first, they seem set to enjoy their reunion, but as the weekend progresses, old rivalries and passions begin to rise to the surface.

For me there were too many cliches, particularly the rivalry between the narrator - a primary school teacher from northern England - and his old university friend, a rich London lawyer who is irritatingly successful with women and good at sports. After a particularly tedious account of a game of golf between the two men, I almost abandoned the book, but kept finding myself reading one more chapter, just to find out what happened next.

Then, about a third of the way into the novel, the tone became darker and the narrator no longer seemed entirely credible, or likeable. At that point I started to become more engaged with the narrative and found it increasingly compelling. I read the second half of 'The Last Weekend' in a single sitting.

Overall, I'd say that this is a good holiday read and it's worth sticking with the unpromising beginning, as the narrative becomes genuinely gripping as it progresses, but as a serious work of fiction, it's rather flawed and isn't up to the high standards that Morrison has achieved in his non-fiction.
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on 29 September 2012
I read this after watching the television series so I did already know what was going to happen, but this did not detract from the enjoyment and I still found myself hoping that something else would happen. The Last Weekend is set over a bank holiday weekend in August and as the time progresses you get the feeling that something terrible is going to happen. The characters that Blake Morrison has created are varied and interesting although the character of Ian is not likeable and it becomes clear throughout that he twists the truth. I did enjoy the book and the way it slowly unfolded until you know what happens but for me I felt that there was something missing from it to make it really really good, but it is a good psychological thriller all the same.
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