Cover Image: Evenings and Weekends

Evenings and Weekends

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Member Reviews

I loved this book. Was fast paced, relatable characters and the perfect bit of escapism. It really stuck with me even after I finished it. Would recommend to anyone!

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Sometimes there comes a novel in your life that will make you feel every rivulet of sweat, every tear cried, the scorching sensation of the sun on your body heating up on the asphalt, and this is one of those novels. In this case, the melting heat comes with a whale stuck in the Thames and an array of characters whose lives will all take a turn on one hot summer day.
The novel has a fresh and delicate narrative that intertwines multiple perspectives, nonetheless connecting them to each other in overlapping narratives. McKenna's writing and use of prose allow us to see a bigger, kaleidoscopic view of everybody's lives both in the present and in the past. Decisions that were made consciously or unconsciously still riverb through the years, actively shaping the protagonists' lives and their actions.
The book covers a lot of fragile themes that McKenna handles beautifully: a mother's cancer diagnosis and the way it triggers her to reexamine her life, a sexual assault whose pain is still felt years later, a coming out in precarious financial conditions and an unexpected pregnancy. There is a whole lot that is presented so naturally, as these lives complicate as lives do.
"Evenings & Weekends" is a great debut work that weaves the hardships of life with the little joys of it, the breakthrough moments when things fall into place and you can finally breathe again, just as rain cracks open the sky after a drought.

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A wonderful character driven story. The setting, over one hot weekend in London in 2019, was engaging and gave the novel a sense of urgency and intensity. Characterisation was really impressive, with the protagonists truly feeling like they were leaping off the page. It is beautifully written and tackles a variety of topical themes in a nuanced and original way. I loved this novel.

Many thanks to the author, publisher and Netgalley for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

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When I requested this book I wasn't sure it would be for me am not a fan of self indulgent whiney characters( Sally Rooney style) with no real suffering but somehow mange to find even going to buy a pint of milk traumatic. So it was with so caution I started this....

I was captured instantly by the well formed stylish style of writing, the rich characters and the London setting.

The characters are whiney but they have things to whine about, proper issues there is no self pitying self indulgent spoilt brats in this book, they do so in way that's not only humorous but feel true to life. I liked the inner monologues from the characters and they way they all interlinked with each other. I always like hearing a different POV on the same situation it always makes for interesting reading.

There is a load of themes going on here, but I found the coping with loss and illness of a parent to be the most insightful and I felt connected to it.

I enjoyed the fact the events all take place over one weekend it made for a proper plot among what is very much a character lead novel.

This is book full of human emotions all of them, it's well written, examines society, and has a pace that flows well along side a cast of flawed but perfect characters.

It took me one weekend to read

It had the same style of writing as Caroline O'Donoghue which I really enjoyed any comparison to the dreaded Sally Rooney is unfair to this book as it is far more interesting and real written with far better style.

A very solid 4 stars

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I thought this one was really good: it's set mostly over one hot summer weekend in London in 2019, and follows a cast of interconnected characters. It felt very assured and polished in a way that I liked, and the setting was probably the best bit – London felt soooo real and recognisable. I didn't love this book cause I'm super picky and I never vibed particularly with any of the characters – but I would definitely recommend it and Oisin McKenna's writing in general!

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This book was a highlight of mine to receive and it did not disappoint, a beautiful story that you just have to keep reading, another fabulous debut from another brilliant author to keep an eye on, one I will be recommending to everyone

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This fantastic debut feels like a breath of fresh air. As its characters suffer in the stultifying summer heat, they start to unpick various truths and stories they have fed themselves over the years. Relationships are questioned, old memories resurface, and tensions flare.

However, even alongside this compulsively readable novel, I found other elements of this book fascinating. Firstly, this is one of the best fictional representations I have read recently of discussions about many areas of relationships: monogamy, open relationships, having children, and polyamory. This I thought was a real strength of the book- characters were allowed to be messy, to get things wrong, to have second and third chances, to disagree on core aspects of how they lived their lives, and then continue to grow and develop without these having to be explained away with oversimplified reasons. As a result, these characters felt like people, rather than ciphers for topics.

I think this is an excellent and fresh novel, and I am very excited to see what comes next.

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Russell Tovey claims it is ‘Astonishing’
Owen Jones shouts ‘lt’s a masterpiece’

I therefore was excitably nervous as to what I would think and find between this intriguingly reviewed book

I found London, London in that hot never ending Summer of 2019 when the poor whale beached, London full of lust, excitement and the belief that anything and everything was just around the next corner

Based on complex characters yet not complex to get to know and their ambitions and dreams and wants and desires it was a book like no other I have read for a long time

It is a queer led book ( yep I used to not be overkeen on the word either but as someone who was used to being called it it feels almost ok after reading this book that its been reclaimed by us for us and not a care given either way who it offend )and has some very poignant dilemmas as unspoken love comes to a head with outspoken sexuality

The writing is divine, it was literally a joy to read and one of those books where every sentence caused a reaction, sometimes good, sometimes challenging

I absolutely loved it, every word

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Thank you to Netgalley and 4th Estate for allowing me access to this ARC.

Evenings and Weekends follows the story of two families, and their relationships, both with each other, and the world around them.

This book is a beautiful tribute to struggles surrounding identity, sexuality, aspirations, and many more questions which bubble just under the surface for every single person in the world.

I found this story of love, obligation, mistakes, awkwardness, sweat, and reality, so beautifully moving.

A perfect read for fans of Jessica Andrews, and Sally Rooney.

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Evenings and Weekends by Oisin McKenna
Release Date: 9th May


📝 - London, 2019. It’s the hottest June on record, and a whale is stuck in the Thames River. In the streets of the city, four old acquaintances want more from life than they’ve been given. On the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, their paths will intersect at a party that will change their lives forever…

💭 - This story takes such a nuanced but realistic perspective on relationships across family, friends, romance, and is full of honesty, love, guilt and more. While there are a fair few characters, I didn’t find it difficult to keep track as each one was given time to show themselves. Each character brought something different to the story as well, and it was obvious that their connections had been crafted with real detail and integrity. Highly recommend for anyone who loves interwoven, character driven stories, with lots of flawed characters, but each realistic and full of depth. An extremely promising debut and an author I will be keeping my eye on…

#oisinmckenna #eveningsandweekends #debutauthor #literaryfiction #contemporaryfiction #newrelease #books #bookreview #bookreviewer #bookrecommendations #booksbooksbooks #irishauthor #irishauthors

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This story follows the lives of Ed and Maggie and Phil and Callum - as well as their parents during the hot summer of 2019. Ed and Maggie currently live in London but are moving back to Basildon to start a family. The book looks at the lives and lies that interlink each person and the hiding of secrets between friends and family. The book flicks between memories of the past and their current situation looking at the relationship and friendships between them throughout the years. This is a character building book and has the tale of the whale in the Thames as part of the backstory which I found interesting. A good read and I will be recommending

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Evenings & Weekends is a novel centred around a group of people who are all intertwined in some way to the backdrop of the hottest summer on record in London 2019. This is a character-driven novel with very little plot. Every character felt completely realistic, and the different issues they were working through covered some really important topics that were all well executed. I also think the book captured the true, messy reality of life in London. I would say there were some characters introduced that didn’t bring much to the book and made it confusing to keep track of everyone. I also don’t agree with the comparison to Sally Rooney; I don’t find this similar at all. Overall, a great read with endearing characters and so well crafted! Big thanks to 4th Estate & NetGalley for an eARC.

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It was really quite beautiful a read. So incredibly human in a way it sometimes feels only the Irish writers can truly capture.

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Evenings and Weekends by Oisin McKenna captures relationships and love and family and friendships. It explores feelings of insecurity and of ambivalence.

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A whale has lost its way and has swam up the Thames ( remember that news in 2006?) and the news about attempts to free the whale during a scorching London summer create a back drop and time line for a novel about a group of friends, "escapees" from Basildon ( a dull "new" town in Essex) who now live in London and who also seem to be losing their bearings and need to be find freedom from their inner demons.

Ed and Maggie, a "solid" couple since sixth form 10 years ago live in a damp flat in Hackney. Maggie wanted to be an artist but couldn't afford to live whilst waiting to be discovered and has worked in a cafe since graduation but she still wants to piant and dance at raves and reclaim her sense of fun. Ed has tried teaching and is now a bike courier. Ed doesn't know who or what he is and is carrying a lot of shame and guilt about secrets in his life and is struggling under the pressure. Maggie is pregnant ( unplanned) and their only option seems to be a move back to cheaper Basildon where they will have family support but both are totally dreading the move. Maggie's best friend since childhood, Phil resides in a communal living warehouse and is sleeping with a fellow resident, who is in a committed but non monogamous relationship. Phil struggles with the abuse he endured in the past as a young gay man and how it has impacted the way he behaves in relationships. Phil's brother, Callum, a drug dealer, is Ed's best friend and their mother, Rosheen, an earlier escapee to London from Ireland has cancer and doesn't know how to tell Phil. The secret thoughts, feelings and experiences of the group are all slowly revealed in this epic saga and come to a head after a solistice house party.

I think that this is a fantastic debut novel. It certainly kept me turning the page for the most part. I think it was a little bloated in parts and could have done with some pruning as some storylines didn't really progress but it was interesting to follow the characters on hot evenings and weekends all the same.

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Absolutely brilliant. The comparisons to Zadie Smith are, for once, not overdone. Not since White Teeth have I read a better novel about London, it’s millions of contradictions, its beauty and horrors. Great stuff.

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I couldn't put down Evenings and Weekends, I loved the use of the infamous Thames Whale to as a central point in which to explore the lives of these East Londoners - brilliant character exploration, each person was interesting in their own right and I never found myself wanting to return to another persons story more than the others. Recommend to readers who love character heavy novels exploring queer relationships, claustrophobic London summers and poignant Irish writing.

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Evenings and Weekends is a novel mostly spanning a weekend in London and Basildon, as an interconnected group of characters across two generations face up to the messiness of life. Maggie is pregnant and on the cusp of moving back to Basildon from London, but she doesn't want to leave, and her boyfriend Ed seems distracted. Her best friend Phil is falling for his housemate Keith, but Keith's in another relationship and Phil doesn't want to upset the current balance. Phil's mum Rosaleen has a cancer diagnosis she wants to share with her son, but doesn't know how, and Phil's brother is soon to get married, but keeps disappearing. And there's a whale stuck in the Thames.

This is the kind of kaleidoscopic literary fiction novel in which there's not a huge amount of plot, but there is a lot of character moments of crisis and change, and you can get deep into the world of the interconnected characters. At first, it seemed that the "normal" life of Maggie and Ed wasn't very interesting, but then it became apparent how much of an act this was. Other characters, particularly Phil and Rosaleen, have engrossing narratives around being haunted by their past and looking towards who they are now and how they relate to other people. There's a lot of supporting characters too, who sometimes get a POV moment, and though this often doesn't work in books, in Evenings and Weekends it did feel like it added colour to the tapestry, so to speak.

I liked how there was a lot about queerness underpinning the novel, and various characters' relationships with queerness, particularly in a London millennial way, but also relating to class and growing up. The messiness of the characters' lives felt very real and their complex experiences of love and sex brought a lot to the book, particularly by the ending. It was refreshing to have a novel explore some of these realities, alongside a great sense of London atmosphere, and the title is reflected in the way that the book is all about the times outside of work, the human moments, rather than another novel about millennials hating their jobs.

The 'whale stuck in the Thames and a marine biologist who looks like Princess Diana' subplot was a great element, but I did wish that it felt like it had an actual conclusion or connected with the characters by the end. Weirdly for a literary fiction novel without much plot, I feel like it could have a sequel, which explores further the characters' decisions, maybe with a time jump to make them older and have different experiences.

Evenings and Weekends is a novel about not wanting to give up who you could be, that potential for excitement and fun and love, and it is also an exploration of London and small-towns, and the complexities of what futures you could have as a queer person. The range of points of view through the narrative will be divisive, but I didn't lose track of how anyone was and enjoyed the little insights you got from a sudden change to a supporting characters' POV.

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Evenings and Weekends follows different people as they experience summer in London. It’s June 2019 and Maggie is pregnant but broke. At 30 years old she expected to be more put together but her pregnancy was unexpected. She is dating Ed who has secrets which involve Maggie’s best friend Phil so he has to avoid him. Phil hates his job and has found himself in a relationship with Keith who has a boyfriend. Phil’s mother Rosaleen has cancer and is trying to break it to Phil.

I am giving this novel 3 stars. It had some poignant moments and some intriguing character work but I struggled with the amount of POV’s because it would switched POV and I struggled to care. Plus I do think comparing this to Sally Rooney sets up false expectations for this book because this was nothing like a Sally Rooney novel. On a technical level the writing of this novel was good and the story flowed well. It had some LGBTQIA+ representation too which I found to be really important and there were some great conversations around Phil. Overall I would recommend this for fans of literary fiction novels with multiple POV’s.

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This is the story of several intertwined lives of several people in (and around) London, mostly over one record breakingly hot weekend in 2019. I don’t know where to start with my review but to say that I loved this book that was carefully crafted and so cleverly written that I couldn’t tell you a character that I always liked or disliked not could I say who was the ‘main’ voice. The cultural references were used only when needed (which I was glad of because I can find them clunky and also worry that they put a book in a zeitgeist that will only be relevant for a limited time). I read this book (an ARC from NetGalley with no obligation to review) in March when housebound with COVID and I felt the summer vibes when reading this. the story weaves between the characters seamlessly (I also worried that I’d find it hard to track with so many names but that wasn’t an issue at all). This is my current favourite read of 2024- 5 stars, not like anything I’ve read lately!

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