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Feb 13

JANE CABLE REVIEWS: THE LAST DAY by CLAIRE DYER

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This is a clever book on so many levels. Just as you are settling in with the characters Claire Dyer throws a curve ball which grips you and makes it impossible not to read on.

Vita, Boyd and Honey are not a love triangle. They can’t be; Vita got over Boyd years ago, but nevertheless it is a surreal situation for them all when Boyd and Honey need to move into Vita’s home in Albert Terrace. And of course they all have secrets – there have to be secrets. In fact there is only one character in book who doesn’t have one.

As days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months, the new normality of life in Albert Terrace is punctured by glimpses of the past which tie the characters together, yet rip them apart. As time marches on towards the last day – which the reader knows has to come – secrets are revealed and slowly the jigsaw falls into place. Just one mystery remains: will the last day in fact be the first?

The Last Day is Claire Dyer’s first book for The Dome Press and she seems to have found the right home for her particular brand of character driven fiction. Dyer is also a poet and it shows; every word in this carefully constructed novel counts and has the feeling of being deliberately placed. Yet the genius is that this is still a smooth read which carries you to the Surrey small town world of the characters and keeps you there long after you’ve finished reading.

As the story takes off you forget about the writer’s skill and become immersed. You cease to notice that one character alone narrates in the first person, that the whole book is in the present tense. This is how it should be with great writing and Dyer, with her MA in Creative Writing, slips into the background as her story takes over.

Highly recommended.

The Last Day is published on 15th February 2018 by The Dome Press. Claire Dyer is one of four writers Frost’s Business of Books column is following this year. Look out for updates on the last Wednesday of every month.