Author : Rachael English
Title : The Night of the Party
Pages : 393
Publisher : Hachette Ireland
Publication Day : May 3, 2018
January 1982: In the village of Kilmitten, the Crossan family are holding their annual party during the biggest snowstorm Ireland has seen in decades. By the end of the night, the parish priest, Father Leo Galvin, is dead.
The lives of four teenagers – Tom, Conor, Tess and Nina – who had been drinking beer and smoking in a shed at the back of the house, will never be the same. But one of them carries a secret from that night that he has never shared.
The friends go on to lead very different, separate lives – some quiet, others in the media spotlight – but the four remain connected by what happened during the time of the big snow.
As the thirty-fifth anniversary of Father Galvin’s murder approaches, Conor, now a senior police officer, becomes obsessed with the crime his father failed to solve. He believes that Tom can help identify Father Galvin’s killer. But does Tom wish to break his silence?
His dilemma draws the four friends back together, forcing them to question their lives and to confront their differences. But only Tom can decide whether Kilmitten’s secret will finally be revealed.
I absolutely loved Rachael English’s previous novel, The American Girl. So much so, that I was never quite able to put it into words and the review remained unwritten. Since then, I sat eagerly awaiting the author’s next offering and it sure was worth the wait. The Night of the Party and its various characters had me completely enthralled.
The story begins in 1982 when Tom’s parents throw their annual January party during a massive snowstorm. By the end of the night the parish priest, Father Leo Galvin, is dead. The lives of Tom and his friends, and the other villagers, will never quite be the same again. Kilmitten is a quiet village, where nothing ever happens and the priest’s death rocks this little community to its very core. It will take thirty-five years for this mystery to be solved and the story follows Tom, Conor, Tess and Nina throughout the decades. As Tom and his friends go on with their lives, the mystery surrounding Father Leo’s death remains with them. Some won’t rest until it is is solved, others wish the whole thing would just go away.
I was a teenager in the 80’s myself and so I truly enjoy stories set in that era. Despite the fact they make me feel rather ancient. The mention of certain bands or items of clothing is enough to turn me into a gigantic puddle of nostalgic goo. The struggles Tom and his friends go through felt quite relatable. There’s always that one friend who seems to have everything together and knows exactly what to do with their life. And there’s the one who doesn’t have a clue, who drifts from course to course, from job to job and hopes some day they’ll figure it out. (That was me, in case you wondered. Still haven’t figure it out 😉)
As an avid crime fiction reader, you’d think I’d be all about trying to solve the case of Father Leo’s death. While I admit it was always in the back of my mind, I actually found myself utterly absorbed by the lives of Tom and his friends. Their careers, or lack thereof, their relationships, families, hopes and dreams, lost loves and grief … it was all brilliantly engaging and I cared about these characters, rooted for them, urged them on and sometimes felt sorry for them as well.
Set in the lovely surroundings of Ireland, this beautifully written tale kept me engrossed from start to finish. The Night of the Party is a truly wonderful story about friendship, secrets and life in a small community with characters I began to miss as soon as I turned the final page. The journey through the decades really highlights the differences in the way lives were led, beliefs and thoughts changed, albeit it a slower pace in a village like Kilmitten. This is a captivating and enchanting story that wormed its way into my heart and I very much look forward to whatever is next from Rachael English.
My thanks to Rachael English for my stunning copy!
The Night of the Party is available for purchase.