The Last Weekend by Blake Morrison
|The Last Weekend by Blake Morrison|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Louise Laurie|
|Summary: Two old university friends and their partners share what is supposed to be a restful weekend by the coast. But as old wounds, negative feelings and resentment - and much more surface The Last Weekend turns out to be more nightmare and less dream scenario.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: May 2011|
|External links: Author's website|
I read (and reviewed, but not for the Bookbag) Morrison's South of the River and enjoyed it, so was looking forward to reading this book. Even more so when I read on the inside back cover the description a compelling psychological thriller ... I absolutely love a book with a psychological element. I'm in my element, you could say.
The book opens in the sunny month of June when the invitation is given, via telephone, from Ollie and Daisy to Ian and Emily. Or Em as she's called throughout - there's a lovely explanation of why Ian insists on shortening his wife's name. And even with this generous and seemingly innocent phone call, all hell seems to break loose as Ian decides to de-cipher the call. Did they mean this? Did they really mean that? And lots of undercurrents and negative feelings start to bubble up.
The story of the weekend is told in the first person by Ian. He has a certain bitter-sweet way with words. He also believes in telling it like it is. Treading on toes, that type of thing. In short he's blunt to the point of being rude. He describes himself as ... looking my age these days: receding hair-line, hunched shoulders, double chin. He continues to feel sorry for himself and tells us that he and Em live in a very modest house (bills out of control, of course) leading a dull lifestyle in the back of beyond. Yeah, yeah, my heart bleeds, I'm thinking at this point. His old university chum Ollie and his gorgeous partner Daisy live a wonderfully fulfilled life in a beautiful house in a desirable area. And do we think it's sour grapes with Ian? Hell, yes. After much deliberation they accept this weekend invitation, but Ian's still grumbling.
As the weekend gets underway, all is not as rosy as it could be. The cottage is a let-down for a start, although Ollie seems to love it. Ian was expecting a grand country house affair. Em thinks the cottage spooky. And then we get to dig a little deeper into this foursome. We find out that Ian and Daisy have known each other from way back. But then along came the dashing Ollie and that was the end of that. And I can see why Ian was mad at the time. But twenty years on? All of this bad feeling gets in the way of a harmonious time. Morrison has created quite a character in Ian. I wanted to shake him on more than one occasion. And if I met him in real life, I think I would steer well clear. There are plenty of telling episodes which show him to have a nasty streak. I found Em far too good for him and wondered why she put up with him at all. What's she getting out of this relationship?
And as this infamous weekend - this stiflingly hot weekend in late August - continues (and of course it feels like a month to the reader, or it did to me and of course, I'm thinking that's the whole point) we get a strong sense of mounting claustrophobia even although we're in the wide, open spaces. And with none of the normal distractions of day-to-day life, this clutch of middle-aged individuals have far too much time on their hands to mull things over. There's a dog, a child and a couple of other assorted house guests too to add to the mix. The tension mounts and mounts ...
What I really enjoyed was Morrison's language and the whole tone of the book as well as Ian's ramblings. The undercurrents are ever present but can differences be resolved? All becomes clear right at the end. A book full of tension and which could be read at a single sitting - or over a weekend, last or otherwise. Recommended.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If this book appeals then try Blue Collar by Danny King.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Last Weekend by Blake Morrison at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Last Weekend by Blake Morrison at Amazon.com.
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