Book Review: The Last Night by Cesca Major

Today I review Cesca Major's second book, The Last Night. Her debut last year was one of my favourite books of the year so I was really excited to receive an advance review copy of this one. Have a look at what I thought of it:

Title: The Last Night
Author: Cesca Major
Published: November 3rd by Corvus

Blurb: In a quiet coastal village, Irina spends her days restoring furniture, passing the time in peace and hiding away from the world. A family secret, long held and never discussed, casts a dark shadow and Irina chooses to withdraw into her work. When an antique bureau is sent to her workshop, the owner anonymous, Irina senses a history to the object that makes her uneasy. As Irina begins to investigate the origins of the piece, she unearths the secrets it holds within.

Decades earlier, another young woman kept secrets. Her name was Abigail. over the course of one summer, she fell in love, and dreamed of the future. But Abigail could not know that a catastrophe loomed, and this event would change the course of many lives for ever...

Review: I was completely blown away by Cesca Major's debut, The Silent Hours, so I started this book with really high expectations. I was expecting to be blown away again and I'm happy to report that I was not disappointed at all. The Last Night is an atmospheric read with so many layers and details. It captured me from the first page and kept me glued to it until the last word. 

The story is split in two time lines. We follow Abigail in 1952, when she moves to Devon to live with her sister and her husband, and Irina in 2016, when she has just received a Georgian bureau on her workshop. From that moment, their lives start to intertwine in unexpected ways and the more you read about them and their lives, the more you want to know. 

Abigail is a young woman who has her whole life in front of her. But Devon is definitely not the place for her. She cannot really connect with her sister and it is quite obvious that her brother in law is not the reputable man he pretends to be. Plus, her best friend, Mary, is still in Bristol. I found the friendship between Abi and Mary so true and special. I could really picture these two girls packing everything and discovering the world together. But then, she meets a young man in Devon who might influence her thoughts and plans. 

In contrast, Irina is a woman stuck in the past. Something happened to her and she hasn't been able to move on. She is a loner who cannot connect with everyone. I found her character really intriguing and with every new bit of information I became more and more involved in her life. I can truly say that I ended up caring for both Abi and Irina as if they were my own family. They were both such complex and layered women, with secrets and dreams. And I wanted to know everything about them.

As in her debut, Cesca Major based this story around a real historical event. I found it fascinating how she can start with a simple detail in an event from the past and build such a powerful and touching story around it. Her writing is flawless and makes you part of the story too. Her attention to detail is enviable, I could picture every scene, every object in my head and that's something I really value in a novel. 

The Last Night will definitely be one of the books of the year for me. I really enjoy historical fiction but Cesca Major takes the whole concept to a new level. I can only praise this book, unforgettable. 

Rating: 5 stars

I would like to thank the publishers for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

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