When I lived in London I commuted from almost one end of the Jubilee line to almost the other. Living near the end of the line and working near the other meant that I nearly always got a seat and that I could get a lot of reading done on the journey. Classics and serious literature didn’t really work for me on the underground, I read those at home and readable, mainstream fiction on those journeys.
I think it was back in those days that I last read Adele Parks. She wrote the kind of books I threw into my book for the daily commute – chick lit, with a clever balance of gloss and grit. But in Cornwall I either drove or, more recently, walked to work and so she slipped through the net as the pattern of my life changed and as I discovered new authors.
We met again a couple of months ago, when a copy of About Last Night landed, unexpectedly, in my porch. I wasn’t sure that it was the book for me, and so I didn’t rush to begin reading. But, eventually, curiosity got the better of me and I began to read.
The opening chapter was lovely. Two girls – Steph and Pip – met at junior school and became fast friends. They were very different – Steph quiet and sensible and Pip curious and sociable – and I could see that they complemented each other beautifully.
Thirty years later they were still best friends. Steph had married a successful man. They had three children, they had a lovely home, everything they had ever wanted. Pip though had been betrayed and abandoned by her husband and it still hurt. But she still had her business, her daughter. I saw two women’s’ lives, I understood how they had evolved, and I wondered where they were going.
I saw lives thrown out of kilter when Steph made a painful discovery. When she found that her life wasn’t as perfect as she thought. How she reacts, and how Pip reacts, could change their lives, their friendship, forever.
I could empathise with each woman. I loved that sometimes they did exactly what I expected and sometimes they did something entirely different. I didn’t always agree but I always understood.
The story could have been predictable, but it wasn’t, and I enjoyed the third person narrative that allowed me to see so many details, look over so many lives.
It was an easy read, but an easy read with substance.
I’m afraid I was a little disappointed in the ending. It was dramatic, it was right, but it was a little too neat.
My final verdict though is positive – Adele Parks is now writing rather more grown up chick lit, still with that clever balance of gloss and grit.