What Happened That Night Review

What Happened That Night Review | Sheila O’Flanagan

Despite normally being the one whisking off into outer-space or confronting dragons, I like a gentle book as much as the next gal. This was the first book I’d read by Sheila O’Flanagan, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Keep reading for my full review on What Happened That Night.

Publisher: Headline Review | Date: 2018 | Genre: General Fiction

Plot: Then: When Lola Fitzpatrick catches the eye of Philip Warren, she’s new to Dublin and loving it. He’s used to getting what he wants…and she can’t resist him. Until one night he forces her to make an impossible choice.

If she’d known then what she knows now, everything might have been different.


Lola’s daughter Bey has inherited her mother’s impulsive streak and it takes her down dangerous paths.

Then one night she too finds herself in front of a man she loves, with impossible choices of her own to make.

For both women, what happened that night changes everything. For better. For worse. For ever.

I received What Happened That Night from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

What Happened That Night Review

What Happened That Night was an unexpected surprise through the letterbox one day. I haven’t read any of Sheila O’Flanagan’s work before, so went into it with an open mind.


I enjoyed it: it was gentle-paced despite being stretched over a long period of time and I wouldn’t pass up the chance to read more of her work. I found it an easy read, which meant it was a quick read. But that suited me; I’m not certain it would have completely held my attention if it stretched out for too long.

This is the type of book that is character driven rather than plot, which works for me. As mentioned, it is set over a long period of time, with the narration broken up into time chunks which allows several years to pass between each section. This division works to allow the characters to develop without forcing fast and unrealistic changes on them.


What Happened That Night starts with Lola, a headstrong young woman determined to make her way in the world without resorting to marriage as everyone around her has done. Swept up in a whirlwind romance, Lola has to make some difficult choices about what to do with her life.

Lola is a strong character and she tries to do the right thing, even if her choices backfire on her. I felt, however, that despite being adamant she wouldn’t marry for the wrong reasons, regardless of what everyone else was telling her, we aren’t given the chance to connect to Lola at a deeper level. I admired her character, but I didn’t connect with her.

“I don’t need your opportunities.” Bey suddenly realised that she believed what she was saying. That she believed in herself.

What Happened That Night by Sheila O’Flanagan

Her daughter, Bey, narrates the majority of the book. She makes her own rash decisions, with consequences that haunt her for the rest of her life. You can tell the generation gap between mother and daughter: Bey is determined to live her dreams because she is striving for more, rather than being adamant she will make it as an independent woman. But love isn’t on the cards for Bey: she just isn’t interested.

Unlike Lola, it was easier to connect with Bey’s character. You see her development more, and you see the moment she realises she is worth more than what her estranged father is determined to make her feel. It was a satisfying moment that gave weight to the entire book: this insecure young lady suddenly realising that they needed her more than she needed them, and she seized that moment to make sure they knew what she was worth.

Philip – Bey’s father – is basically a git for the entire book. He gets to redeem himself slightly by the end, but other than that, I had no time for him.

Final Thoughts

While it was enjoyable watching these characters grow over this stretched period of time, I was disappointed by the ending. I did want them to get their happy endings, they deserved them. But it felt cliché and against what the characters had spent most of the book striving towards.

Still, an enjoyable read.

Are you a Sheila O’Flanagan fan? Is this your sort of book?

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