Book review: The Last Weekend by Blake Morrison

Last Weekend

I caught some of the three-part televised version of this psychological thriller years ago but had forgotten the name of it and had always wondered how it ended so I was so pleased to come across this book.

The story’s set over a stifling bank holiday weekend in a house in East Anglia, reuniting four friends, three of whom were together at university twenty years ago. It’s told by Ian who you learn at the beginning has been less successful than his friend Ollie, a barrister, who’s now married to Daisy, the girl they both loved as students and they have a son. Ian’s a primary school teacher whose marriage is under pressure because his wife Em wants children and they’re unable to have them, and because Ian has a tribunal coming up at work which could end his career.

Ollie and Daisy’s invitation to spend a weekend in the country seems half-hearted as it turns out they’ve double-booked, inviting one of Daisy’s designer friends Milo and they seem embarrassed to introduce Ian and Em to their more stylish set.

Over the weekend Ollie and Ian resurrect a bet made twenty years earlier and a strong theme of male rivalry emerges as you start to question Ian’s version of events. In the claustrophobic atmosphere of the house during a blindingly hot summer, the tension creeps up and then soars as one revelation after another spills out, leading to a devastating ending.

The writing is so very clever. You’re told one thing but at the same time shown another. I absolutely loved it. It isn’t fast-paced or action-packed but the brilliantly-captured characters and perfectly handled misdirection kept me glued to the pages. If you missed  it on television starring the brilliant Sean Evans (Endeavour) and Rupert Penry-Jones (Spooks) or even if you didn’t I’d highly recommend the book.

 

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