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 in the 1950s, 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...
The Last Night by Cesca Major is published by Corvus on 3 November in trade paperback and eBook, and is the author's second book. I read and reviewed her first novel The Silent Hours here on Random Things in March last year.
I adored Cesca Major's The Silent Hours and have been looking forward to The Last Night for a long time. I'm delighted to say that it is everything that I hoped it would be, and more.
Once again the author tells her story using different voices, set in different eras, this worked so well in her last book and it really is a clever way to tell this multi-layered, moving and quite gripping story.
Two women with two stories, and inspired by true events. The modern-day thread centres around Irina, a furniture restorer, living on the coast and doing her best to avoid the world. Irina is a rich and complex character who keeps her secrets very close. Her face carries scars from a tragic accident that happened many years ago. This incident has not only scarred her face, she bears the inner scars heavily too. The reader is left wondering just what happened to Irina, why she cannot bring herself to talk about it, even to those that she does allow to get close to her. When a client sends a bureau to Irina for repair, she begins to feel a presence. Strange things begin to happen. She hears things, and sees thing and becomes obsessed with discovering more about the history of this piece of furniture.
Meanwhile, back in the 1950s, young Abigail's mother has died and she goes to live with her sister and her husband. As children, they were close, but have drifted apart over the years and Abigail is surprised by the luxury they live in. She's also surprised by the actions of her brother-in-law, and spends as much time away from the house as possible. She meets and falls in love with a local fisherman. When a devastating incident happens, Abigail's life will change once again.
Cesca Major's writing is so so powerful, her imagery is beautiful. The descriptions of the landscape and the overwhelming presence of water is masterly done. Both Abigail and Irina are characters that the reader will support and empathise with, and the supporting cast are excellently created too. It can't be easy to incorporate true events into a fictional story, but the author manages it beautifully.
The themes of love and secrets, and the dual time story work wonderfully, the links are seamless and the story is haunting and evocative. The Last Night is another very special novel from a very talented author.
My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy of The Last Night for review.
Cesca Major read history at Bristol University. She went on to work in television before becoming a history teacher. In 2005 she was runner up in the Daily Mail Writing Competition for the best opening paragraph to a novel and had a short story published in the Sentinel Literary magazine.
She has written regularly for the website www.novelicious.com and films writing videos for www.writersandartists.com
She currently works as a housemistress at a boarding school in Berkshire.
Find out more a www.cescamajor.com
Follow her on Twitter @CescaWrites