Throwback Thursday: The Last Day by Claire Dyer

ThrowbackThursday

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme originally created by Renee at It’s Book Talk.  It’s designed as an opportunity to share old favourites as well as books that we’ve finally got around to reading that were published over a year ago.

Today I’m revisiting a book I reviewed last May but that was published almost exactly a year ago – The Last Day by Claire Dyer.  It was a book I loved when I read it which seems a suitable sentiment to mark Valentine’s Day.  In fact, as you will see, I found at least ten reasons to love it….


The Last DayAbout the Book

They say three’s a crowd but when Boyd moves back into the family home with his now amicably estranged wife, Vita, accompanied by his impossibly beautiful twenty-seven-year-old girlfriend, Honey, it seems the perfect solution: Boyd can get his finances back on track while he deals with his difficult, ailing mother; Honey can keep herself safe from her secret, troubled past; and Vita can carry on painting portraits of the pets she dislikes and telling herself she no longer minds her marriage is over.

But the house in Albert Terrace is small and full of memories, and living together is unsettling.

For Vita, Boyd and Honey love proves to be a surprising, dangerous thing and, one year on, their lives are changed forever.

Format: Paperback, ebook (370 pp.)    Publisher: The Dome Press
Published: 15th February 2018     Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Purchase Links*
Publisher (buy direct for 30% off) | Amazon.co.uk  ǀ  Amazon.com  ǀ Hive.co.uk (supporting UK bookshops)
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find The Last Day on Goodreads


10 Things I Loved About The Last Day by Claire Dyer

  • The structure of the book – Told from alternating points of view of the main characters, at random intervals the reader gets a chapter about a seemingly unrelated character whose role in the story will only be revealed at the end of the book.
  • The atmosphere in the house – The book creates a powerful sense of claustrophobia.  The house in Albert Terrace is small, smaller than the reader might have imagined, meaning Vita, Boyd and Honey are in close proximity all the time.  The three of them share one bathroom and the rooms are described as ‘crowded with furniture’.  At one point Vita says, ‘I feel cramped by their presence in the house.’
  • The apt names – The character names give an insight into their personalities.  There’s Vita whose name matches her feisty nature, someone who’s full of life and not a little pent-up anger.  There’s Boyd, whose names speaks of solidity and honesty.  There’s Honey who embodies the sweet nature her name suggests.  And there’s Trixie – but I’m going to let you read the book and work that one out.
  • Colin – Oh, poor Colin, Vita’s convenient companion for outings, suppers and – occasionally – something more.   His comment to Vita, “If you’re happy, I’m happy” sums him up.
  • Honey’s superstitions – Bringing bread and salt to a new home (and sprinkling the salt on the doorstep), going in and out by the same entrance, flinging open all the door at midnight on New Year’s Eve to let the old year escape unimpeded.  And I can’t finish without mentioning the precaution against bad luck Honey takes on p.47.  Sorry, you’re going to have to read the book to find out!
  • Vita’s pet portraits – In fact, not so much the pet portraits as Vita’s sheer contempt at what she’s been reduced to – painting pictures of pampered pooches.
  • Shared pleasures – Boyd’s and Vita’s early morning chats over tea or coffee and the crossword.  What could be more civilised?
  • Tension – The presence of secrets and hidden frustration contribute to an air of mounting pressure that the reader feels must eventually find some release.  As Vita observes, ‘…how can this house survive seeing it’s full to bursting with the three of us, our belongings, and so many unsaid things?’
  • That ending – The tension mentioned above builds to a dramatic and heart-breaking conclusion that represents both a last day in one respect and a first day in another.

Elements of the story, for me, were definitely in the realm of fiction but what really stood out about The Last Day was the depth of the characterisation, the intense atmosphere the author created within the house and the compelling nature of the relationship between Vita, Boyd and Honey.

I received a review copy courtesy of publishers, The Dome Press.

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In three words: Intense, compelling, intimate

Try something similar…That Summer in Puglia by Valeria Vescina (read my review here)


Claire DyerAbout the Author

Claire Dyer’s novels The Moment and The Perfect Affair, and her short story, Falling For Gatsby, are published by Quercus. Her poetry collections, Interference Effects and Eleven Rooms are published by Two Rivers Press. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London and teaches creative writing for Bracknell & Wokingham College.  She also runs Fresh Eyes, an editorial and critiquing service. (Photo credit: Goodreads author page)

Connect with Claire

Website  ǀ  Twitter  ǀ  Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

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WWW Wednesdays – 13th February ‘19

WWWWednesdays

Hosted by Taking on a World of Words, this meme is all about the three Ws:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Why not join in too?  Leave a comment with your link at Taking on a World of Words and then go blog hopping!


Currently reading

Louis  & Louise by Julie Cohen (e-book courtesy of NetGalley)louis & louise

ONE LIFE. LIVED TWICE.

Louis Dee and Louise are the same person born in two different lives. They are separated only by the sex announced by the doctor and a final ‘e’.

They have the same best friends, the same red hair, the same dream of being a writer, the same excellent whistle. They both suffer one catastrophic night, with life-changing consequences.

Thirteen years later, they are both coming home.

A tender, insightful and timely novel about the things that bring us together – and those which separate us.


Recently finished (click on title for review)

The Phoenix of FlorenceThe Phoenix of Florence by Philip Kazan (proof copy courtesy of Allison & Busby)

16th century Italy, deep in the Tuscan countryside, a long-held feud between two aristocratic families ends in tragedy, leaving only one young girl alive. Having barely escaped with her life, she vows to survive at all costs…

Years later, amidst the winding streets and majestic facades of Florence, two murders are not all they seem. As Onorio Celavini, commander of the Medici police force, investigates, he is horrified to find a personal connection to the crimes, and a conspiracy lurking beyond. The secrets of his past threaten to spill out and Celavini is forced to revisit the traumatic memories hidden deep within him to lay the ghosts of history to rest.

Poignant and compelling, The Phoenix of Florence is a richly told and cleverly crafted tale of a  struggle for identity and a battle for justice in an Italy besieged by war.

Pre-order The Phoenix of Florence from Amazon UK (link provided for convenience not as part of an affiliate programme)

99 Nights in Logar99 Nights in Logar by Jamil Jan Kochai (eARC courtesy of Vintage and NetGalley)

A coming-of-age story about one boy’s journey across contemporary Afghanistan to find and bring home the family dog, blending the grit and immediacy of voice-driven fiction like We Need New Names with the mythmaking of One Thousand and One Nights.

Twelve-year-old Marwand’s memories from his previous visit to Afghanistan six years ago center on his contentious relationship with Budabash, the terrifying but beloved dog who guards his extended family’s compound in Logar. Eager to find an ally in this place that’s meant to be “home,” Marwand approaches Budabash the way he would any dog on his American suburban block—and the results are disastrous: Marwand loses a finger and Budabash escapes.

The resulting search for the family dog is an expertly told adventure, a ninety-nine-night quest that sends Marwand and his cousins across the landscape of Logar. Moving between celebrations and tragedies, deeply humorous and surprisingly tender, 99 Nights in Logar is a vibrant exploration of the power of stories—the ones we tell each other, and the ones we find ourselves in.


What Cathy (will) Read Next

The Night TigerThe Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo  (eARC, courtesy of Quercus and NetGalley)

They say a tiger that devours too many humans can take the form of a man and walk among us…

In 1930s colonial Malaya, a dissolute British doctor receives a surprise gift of an eleven-year-old Chinese houseboy. Sent as a bequest from an old friend, young Ren has a mission: to find his dead master’s severed finger and reunite it with his body. Ren has forty-nine days, or else his master’s soul will roam the earth forever.

Ji Lin, an apprentice dressmaker, moonlights as a dancehall girl to pay her mother’s debts. One night, Ji Lin’s dance partner leaves her with a gruesome souvenir that leads her on a crooked, dark trail.

As time runs out for Ren’s mission, a series of unexplained deaths occur amid rumours of tigers who turn into men. In their journey to keep a promise and discover the truth, Ren and Ji Lin’s paths will cross in ways they will never forget.