Thursday 21 February 2013

The Last Time I Saw You by Eleanor Moran

Olivia and Sally had always had a troubled friendship. Meeting at university, they moved into their own flat for their second year and were so close, Olivia would have done anything for Sally. But the friendship could be poisonous at times. Olivia basked under Sally’s light but Sally’s moods could shift in an instant and Olivia would be left in the dark, observing Sally like an outsider as men or other friendships took her place. Sally ruled over the friendship until a major fight separated the pair and they have barely spoken to each other since.

Years later, Olivia receives the shocking news that her former best friend has been involved in a car accident. Sally is dead, leaving behind a devoted husband and a young daughter. Olivia meets Sally’s husband and daughter, William and Madeline, at the funeral and is put on the spot when William asks to see her again to talk about her friendship with Sally. Olivia doesn’t want to taint William’s memories of his wife with her own recollections of her turbulent friendship with Sally but she agrees to meet up with him. But when she does, she finds the Sally that William knew and loved is in contrast with the Sally she knew and things don’t add up. Olivia finds herself digging up the past, unearthing Sally’s secrets, secrets that could turn the life William had with Sally upside down.

The Last Time I Saw You is an intriguing tale of friendship as Olivia delves into her past with Sally, feeding the reader with information bit by bit, creating a full picture of what life was like with Sally around. The friendship was toxic and draining almost from the start but the reader is left wondering what happened to drive the pair apart as Olivia was so attached to Sally, desperate to be her ‘chosen’ friend as Sally fed her with love one minute and the cold shoulder the next before reeling her back in. I wanted Olivia to be stronger, to break the attachment she had with Sally as it was clear Sally was troubled and was never going to be the kind of friend Olivia craved but Olivia was almost smitten with Sally and there was no way she could walk away, no matter how erratic her behaviour became.

I found the book quite difficult to really get into to begin with as it was a little slow for me but it did pick up as Sally’s secrets began to tumble out and I found the pace much better and it kept me reading on to find out what had happened prior to her death. Though Sally dies at the beginning of the book, we get to know her through Olivia’s flashbacks. Sally was extremely controlling and manipulative within her relationships but she could also show flashes of vulnerability too. Her friendship with Olivia was an intense one, the pressure building until it finally exploded and there was no going back. Although I wouldn’t want a friend like Sally, she did make a fantastic, complex character.

Thank you to Quercus for sending me a copy to review

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