Last Chance Saloon Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Last Chance Saloon

Katherine, Tara and Fintan are three friends trying to find true love in London. The story primarily follows the lives of Katherine and Tara but there are snippets here and there from the POVs of a few other characters.
Click here to see the rest of this review

The story begins with the three best friends, Katherine, Tara and Fintan, meeting up for Tara's birthday. Tara's a bit of a "messed-up" girl, full of insecurities about her weight and looks as well as the type that often has credit card debts. Katherine is more poised but she is cool and closed-off and very in control of herself. Fintan is bouncy and glamorous and he tells the girls how much in love he is with his boyfriend Sandro. A last friend, Liv, who is a dazzling, tall woman with a model-esque look also shows up at the party. The friends have a dynamic conversation, one of the topics about Thomas, Tara's boyfriend, who is not favorably looked upon by the others. After the party, when Tara returns home, she is greeted by a rather self-absorbed and misogynistic fellow - Thomas. Tara has kidded herself into thinking she loves him but the truth is that she's living with Thomas because she's afraid no one else will take her at her age and with her looks. Tara desperately tries to lose weight but finds that she's fighting a losing battle. Tara hopes that Thomas will finally say he loves her and ask her to marry him but Thomas seems to think very highly of himself and refuses to commit, constantly making Tara feel inadequate.

The next day, Katherine goes to work as an accountant. Everyone at the marketing firm where she works are sleeping with each other and gossiping about each other. There is one man, in particular, named Joe Roth, that has set his sights on Katherine. Joe's been warned by his colleagues that Katherine is an "Ice Queen" - a prude and snob and that he's wasting his time. But there's something about Katherine that Joe finds attractive so every day he tries to make a move on her. Katherine has automatic defensive barriers up whenever anyone tries to flirt with her and she rejects Joe every single time. One day, Joe gets Katherine to have lunch with him, on the pretense that he needs to discuss an account with her and lunch time's the best time for him. Katherine is determined to have a very business-like, brisk lunch but Joe is equally determined to get her to loosen up and show him her true character. At the end, Joe succeeds in getting Katherine to open up about herself and they find they share a lot in common. Katherine, realizing that she's enjoying things far too much, closes up immediately and leaves the restaurant, almost coldly. The next day, Katherine says something to Joe that is totally uncalled for - she says that he sexually harasses her with his constant flirting. Joe is stunned that she feels this way and immediately backs off. Katherine is a bit regretful about what she did as, despite the fact that she's pushes Joe away, she secretly finds that she likes his attention and may even like him. But after the sexual assault incident, Joe stops talking to her and almost completely ignores her existence.

One day, Tara and Katherine find out that Fintan is ill - he has lymphatic cancer and it has spread to other parts of his body. When they go to see him, Fintan at first puts on a brave face and claims he will recover somehow. But as the days pass and his condition worsens, he lapses into a depressed phase than an angry phase where he speaks the truth about what he thinks about Tara and Katherine. After the three reconcile, Katherine and Tara become very depressed and upset themselves that their best friend is dying. At work, Katherine finds herself crying silently and Joe inadvertently witnesses it but doesn't tell anyone that he saw her when she was in such a weak state. One day, Fintan is at the top of his form, feeling really good. Tara and Katherine visit him at the hospital and he makes Tara promise that she will face her fear of being alone and break up with Thomas or else finally figure out whether Thomas actually wants to marry her. Fintan also makes Katherine promise that she will face her fear of opening up to someone by flirting with and going out with Joe. He makes the girls promise this because he has cancer and this is sort of his dying wish for his friends.

At work, Katherine, for the first time, has her mind on other things than work. She makes some timid flirty moves on Joe from across the room, but she can barely stand her own embarrassment. She musters up her courage and apologizes to Joe for accusing him of sexually harassing her to which Joe accepts, but with a blank unreadable face. Later that week, she dresses up as sexily as she dares (which isn't really that much sexier than regular office wear) but Joe doesn't seem to really notice. She continues this for a few days, then sort of forgets about it but then one day she looks up and finally sees that Joe has noticed her and he exchanges a smile with her from across the office. After a few days, she receives an email from Joe asking to go out with her. Joe and Katherine have a romantic first date at a football game that ends with them sleeping with each other and falling full force in love with each other.

Meanwhile, Tara tries to broach the subject of marriage with Thomas. Thomas expresses his disinterest in marriage and children and is in fact amused that Tara would want that but he still expects Tara to sleep with him. One day, Tara has had enough and tells Thomas he is leaving her. She and Thomas have an argument but Tara feels very free at the end of it and she moves in with Katherine. Fintan is proud of his two friends for reaching such big milestones in their lives. After a few months, Katherine and Joe are a steady couple and Tara has completely gotten over Thomas and feels like a new woman. One day, however, Katherine has her first fight with Joe over someone Joe had a one night stand of sorts with during the time Katherine had snubbed him. That same day, Tara returns home with some new friends and one of the friends is Katherine's ex-boyfriend.

There is a flashback explaining why Katherine is the Ice Queen that she is - because she was hurt by love. The ex-boyfriend is one of those good-looking actors that are so full of themselves however over the years is no longer so good looking and popular and the entire package is less appealing. The ex-boyfriend had wanted to sleep with Katherine because she was a challenge and her virginity was like a prize for him. After she slept with him, she got pregnant and he left her to deal with the traumatic experience of abortion herself. All in all, she was scarred by this man who seemed to hold her in some sort of thrall. Coming back to present time, we learn that Katherine is still mesmerized by him and this is getting in the way of Katherine and Joe's relationship which cools off exponentially. One day, Katherine's ex-boyfriend shows up and this is Katherine's chance to get pay back for what he did to her. She tells him off and cuts him where it hurts his ego the most in that cool, Ice Queen manner that she's developed over the years. She tells him that he's old and quite pathetic.

Eventually, Katherine and Joe will reunite, Tara will feel good about herself and Fintan will overcome his cancer.
Best part of story, including ending: I like that the story is written with humor and yet the characters and their problems are treated very lovingly.

Best scene in story: My favorite scene is when Katherine has to apologize to Joe - I thought she was very brave and it was a big step for her character growth.

Opinion about the main character: Out of the main characters, I like Katherine the most because she's shown so much growth since the beginning of the story and found sweet love in the end.

The review of this Book prepared by Sharon C. a Level 12 Black-Throated Green Warbler scholar

Chapter Analysis of Last Chance Saloon

Click on a plot link to find similar books!

Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   humorous Time/era of story    -   1980's-1999 Romance/Romance Problems    -   Yes Kind of romance:    -   workplace romance Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Lover is    -   physically ill/deformed

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   accountant Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   Irish


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   4 () City?    -   Yes City:    -   London

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

Books with storylines, themes & endings like Last Chance Saloon

Marian Keyes Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
2 Ways to Search!

Our Chief Librarian