JUST LAST NIGHT - Mhairi McFarlane
Nottingham, England - The Present
JUST LAST NIGHT starts with Eve, Susie, Justin, and Ed, who have been close friends since before ending sixth form (high school), enjoying their weekly pub quiz get together. Now at thirty-four, all of them are still single. Yet, Eve has loved Ed since leaving sixth form, and before they both left for different colleges, he indicated he loved her, too. Tonight, however, at the pub, the woman Ed has been with since his first year of college, Hester, makes a surprise speech at the bar. She asks Ed to marry her. Ed agrees.
Eve is reticent with everyone but her best friend Susie, who knows all her secrets except how she feels about Ed, and Eve believes she knows all of Susie's secrets. Seeing Hester propose to Ed with everyone in the bar observing his acceptance devastates Eve. Eve doesn't tell any of her friends how wounded she feels believing none of them know of her continuing devotion to Ed. The next morning, more bad news shatters her. She learns Susie had died when a car slammed into her while she walked home from the bar. The tragedy turns Eve's life inside out. The three remaining friends are planning the funeral when an outsider arrives. Susie's brother Finley comes back to Nottingham from the United States for her funeral. The friends judge him through all of Susie's prejudices. While they know of Susie's dislike for her brother, and they suspect his purposes, they must accept his decisions about the funeral as his and Susie's father has dementia.
The story is told from Eve's viewpoint and reveals that not only can one not know what is going on in another person's life, no matter how close they are, but also how initial judgments, even of well-known friends, can be wrong. Plus, as the title indicates, the story also shows how anything can dramatically change in a very short time frame. Initially, I had some difficulty getting into the story, but author Mhairi McFarlane writes with a magnetic draw that soon enveloped me and I could not stop reading. It is an amazing read about love and friendship.