September’s read was That Night by Gillian McAllister. A story of three siblings, and how far they’ll go to protect each other…
This thriller lead to a really engaged, interesting chat with so many brilliant points being made. We loved hearing all your thoughts and feelings on the book…
THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS
Q1) How long did it take you to get into this book?
It seems like most members didn’t take long to get into the book. A few mentioned that the short chapters and alternating perspectives helped. There were a few people who felt that the beginning had them hooked, then they found it slowed down and dipped a little in the middle, but the ending had them gripped again.
Q2) Were Joe and Cathy right to help Frannie? What would you have done?
Ha, there were some great answers to this! Most people said that it was easy to say “no, of course you wouldn’t” but actually the more they thought about it, they did consider the lengths they would go to to help and protect their family. We really liked Laura’s comment: “I don’t think they were right to help her but I kept reflecting on what I’d do in that situation & I think it would be so hard to decide what to do if you wanted to protect someone that you loved vs doing the right thing (especially given it was illegal!). I think it spiralled for them and went further than any of them thought it would.”
Q3) How did the settings impact the book for you? The writing is very descriptive. Verona vs UK…
It seems like a lot of members liked the descriptions, especially when set in Verona, feeling like that really added to the story. We loved Kate’s comment: “I enjoyed the Verona chapters more plot-wise, but I do think the miserable U.K. weather is always quite fitting for a thriller… pathetic fallacy and all that jazz 😂 in terms of pacing it definitely dipped when they returned to the U.K., I think it’s hard to keep up momentum when you’re so physically displaced from the scene of the crime and the investigation.”
Sophie also made a great point that a lot of members agreed with when she said: “I think it helped the reality of what they had done set in when they came back to the UK. Back to reality and normal life. Whereas in Verona it was always as if it wasn’t real.”
Q4) What did you think about the use of the unnamed female Plant sister talking to the lawyer as a way to further the plot?
Most members found this quite clever, and were surprised to discover the truth – it seems a lot of people had assumed the narrator was Frannie, and really liked it as a twist. Jess said: “This had me guessing throughout. With each chapter I convinced myself it was one and then would change my mind. I had decided on the right sister a few chapters before it was revealed, it just made sense because of how she was portrayed through all the ‘Then’ chapters.”
Q5) In terms of characterisation, was there anyone you especially liked, disliked or sympathised with?
There was a mix of responses to this! Overall, the siblings weren’t found to be particularly likeable, some found themselves warming a little more to Frannie towards the end, but it seems like the siblings were hard to connect with. Ellie said: “To be honest I struggled to connect with the characters and I’m not sure why, after reading I realised I wasn’t that invested in their fates, I was more focussed on the plot and what would happen!” and this seems to have been echoed in other comments! There was a lot of sympathy for Lydia, particularly as she had so much to deal with but always came second.
Q6) What did the loss of the youngest Plant sister add to the story?
This was a really interesting discussion point. Some members felt it added an awful lot to the story, and gave the characters more depth. Alexandra made a great point when she said: “I think it had a great impact on them not trying to hurt their parents more. It also showed they’ve dealt with loss before and from Cathy’s and Joe’s points of view, it might’ve been one of the reasons they decided to try and help Frannie cover it all up. To not lose another sister…” which was something it seems like a lot of members agreed with. Georgie also made a really good comment: “I think it made you realise why they were so close and had such a connection. Their parents were consumed in their own grief and so this strong bond was created to protect one another.”
Q7) What did you think of the reveal of Will’s actual identity in relation to Frannie?
It seems like half the members guessed, the other half were completely surprised! There were quite a few people who found it made them dislike Frannie even more, as Laura said: “I really liked that twist but it definitely made me dislike Frannie more as she hadn’t been honest with her siblings & I’m not sure they would have helped her if they knew the full truth that she knew Will.” It was interesting how a few people said they’d never really considered Will’s backstory and so were pleased to learn more about him.
Q8) Were you shocked by Evan’s blackmail and sudden ending?
Ha, he was not a popular character! It seems like while most were not surprised by the blackmail, the death did come as a shock. Alexandra made a really great point when she said: “From how Evan’s character was descripted at the very start, he was exactly the kind of person who would do that. I think Joe killing him was a bit too much, but thinking about it, that wasn’t his intention. It was basically an accident. They weren’t professional serial killers, it was obvious someone would discover what they’d done.” There were a lot of comments on how foolish the siblings had been to so openly discuss what had happened in Verona too!
Q9) What did you think of the ending and trial conclusion?
The ending was very popular, and a lot of members said they liked the twist. We loved Cally’s comment: “This may be me being harsh but i feel like Frannie got let off way too easy She openly admitted to murder and yet they still treat her like she was a child and needed to be protected! She doesn’t need babying when she clearly has the intelligence to be as deceitful as she was! Joe however held alot of anger and i feel like he feels content that he’s got what he deserves and he wouldn’t have been able to cope if he didn’t come clean.” There were also a few comments about the ending actually felt relatively realistic, which isn’t always the case with thrillers!
Don’t forget, Gillian McAllister will be joining us for a live Q&A on Thursday 7th October at 8pm!