Title: Mayflies

Author: Andrew O'Hagan

Published: September 2020

Genres: Contemporary Fiction




Everyone has a Tully Dawson: the friend who defines your life.

In the summer of 1986, in a small Scottish town, James and Tully ignite a brilliant friendship based on music, films and the rebel spirit. With school over and the locked world of their fathers before them, they rush towards the climax of their youth: a magical weekend in Manchester, the epicentre of everything that inspires them in working-class Britain. There, against the greatest soundtrack ever recorded, a vow is made: to go at life differently. Thirty years on, half a life away, the phone rings. Tully has news.

Mayflies is a memorial to youth's euphorias and to everyday tragedy. A tender goodbye to an old union, it discovers the joy and the costs of love.


TAY'S REVIEW   ⭐️⭐️⭐️

I desperately wanted to love this book. It had everything going for it; the profound concept, the recommendation from @riverbendbooks, the 3-time Booker prize nominated author, I’d pegged it as a winner. O’Hagan explored the ecstasy of youth so wonderfully, through a story of an unwavering bond of male friendship bred by a mutual love for music, movies, politics, and a desire to break free from the small-town destinies paved out for them by their fathers. The prose was exquisite (Exhibit A: “her words floated into the daylight”) and vividly poetic (Exhibit B: “we were soft as Tunnock Teacakes, sentimental as sherbet”). It faltered for me in a few places, one being the missed connection to so many of the references, another being the lack of time to become invested in the characters. I found myself wishing O’Hagan had not opted for a linear timeline, but one that flirted with past and present, to strengthen the narrative and the chance of connection for the reader. A tribute to life-long friendships, the kind that endure, and a story that felt timeless in its purpose: a cautionary reminder of how time creeps up on us all.



Set in mid 1980s Glasgow, centered around and told from the POV of James ("Noodles"), Mayflies is the unfolding of the story of him and his vibrant best mate Tully.  Jumping from 1986 to 2017 halfway through, this book explores the growth of their friendship through the tumultuous passages of time and the experiences that life brings. My main critique with this one is that the pacing seemed slightly off. I felt that the first half was lacking, and slow to the point where I struggled to follow occasionally, with a high volume of surface level dialogue. On the other hand, I found the second half was faster, yet allowed for intricacies and unforced natural progression, but comparatively, felt rushed. It was a bit before my time, so some of the 1980s Scotland references were also lost on me. Overall however, it was a tender novel, filled with brilliant prose and a beautiful ending.  My words of wisdom to those who plan on reading, is stick with it, because it only gets better.


Thank you to Allen & Unwin for sending us a review copy of this book.

You can find more information about the book and purchase a copy here.

Or check out Andrew O'Hagan's other published works here.



Assisted dying



'The Guardian' Article - Andrew O'Hagan: "If you are honest, you never stop being who you were."

'BBC' Article - Australian state legalises assisted dying in national first

'ABC' Podcast - A matter of life and death — the ethics of Voluntary Assisted Dying

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