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About Last Night by Ruthie Knox

Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Synopsis: In an attempt to make a drastic lifestyle change, Mary Catherine Talarico moves from the suburbs of Chicago to the city of London. Mary has closed herself off from the outside world and refuses to let anyone become a permanent part of her life. She has four tattoos on her body that remind her daily about her past mistakes and about the person who she never wants to become again. She believes that she is damaged and views London as a place where she can become a different and better person.

In London, she works as a temporary assistant to a guest curator for the Victoria and Albert Museum’s hand-knitting exhibit. Every day before boarding the train for work, Mary engages in people-watching where she observes the movements of the usual train station passengers. For example, she watches an older gentleman who always wears a fedora, a redheaded woman she nicknames Merry Widow, and then there is City who Mary describes as being a ‘golden boy scout’ who works in the financial district.

After a disastrous blind date, Mary wakes up one morning in a stranger’s bed. As she pulls together bits and pieces of last night’s events, she remembers getting drunk at a club, attempting to board a train in order to go home, and that City, a train passenger, had ended up escorting her to his home instead due to her inebriated state. Feeling relieved that she is in a trustworthy and safe environment; she leaves the bed and sets out to thank City for his actions. However, instead of finding an uptight banker, she finds Neville Chamberlain (aka City) who is charming, good-looking, and sexy—not at all what she expected. As soon as Mary and Neville officially meet, they begin a passionate—and at times roller coaster— love affair.

Review: About Last Night can easily be classified as a steamy romance novel. There is love, fights, make-ups, break-ups, and (of course) a happy ending. However, the book’s underlying theme is forgiveness and acceptance. It focuses on the ability of Mary to forgive herself and to accept who she is; and to believe that she is worthy of being loved. The writer allows the reader to invest time in becoming familiar with the character Mary which adds to the believability of the story.

In my opinion, one of the negative aspects of the novel is that it appeared at times that Neville is placed on a pedestal and is labeled as being pure and innocent in terms of his character. Yes, Neville is a ‘good guy’. Even though he may have slight possessive tendencies, he is not an alpha male nor is he the irresistible bad boy. However, he does have his own inner demons.
Neville detests his job as a banker at Haverford Bank, but feels obligated to stay in this position due to familial obligations and financial security. In order to receive a work promotion, Neville is informed by his brother that he must find a suitable fiancĂ© and present it to his family within a month. This is because his brother is a board member at the Bank and has the power to grant or deny Neville this promotion. Instead of immediately refusing to become his brother’s puppet, Neville does nothing. Throughout the novel, he allows others to influence his actions, lacks the courage to stand up against the meddlesome habits of both his mother and brother, and is afraid to pursue his true passion which is art. The lack of the book’s focus on Neville’s inadequacies made the novel sometimes appear to be off-balance. Mary is supposed to be accepting of Neville’s love; but Neville’s brother and mother refuses to accept Mary due to her lack of social status. Neville states that he cares about Mary and that he disregards what his family members think about her; however his actions depict otherwise. In fact, towards the end of the novel, he uses Mary for his own selfish reasons.

Overall, I enjoyed About Last Night. The plot was interesting, the characters were multi-dimensional, and the writing itself allowed the reader to see the novel as being more than just ‘a good romance.’

Rating: 3/5 DIAMONDS
Reviewed by: Heather
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