My hiatus ended up being a little more extended than originally planned, but I’m back and ready to tackle some great books that I’ve missed and that are coming out early next year, the first of which being The Guest List by Lucy Foley.
I had stopped reading whodunnits and murder mysteries because I was finding them to be the exact same thing over and over again (everyone was trying to be Gone Girl), but when my local book club suggested this one, I figured I would give it a try. It had been months since I’d read anything other than YA or romantic comedies.
The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body
On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favours, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.
But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.
And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?
I will make one thing clear right away: This book isn’t suspenseful. It’s not like Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train where you’re trying to piece everything together as the book goes on. You don’t even know who the victim is until close to the end of the book. If the writer hadn’t put a very short chapter in every few chapters reminding us that something shady was going on, I might have forgotten there was a murder at all. Not that that’s a bad thing, it’s just a style choice.
I enjoy that the story is written from many points of view. You slowly learn little bits and pieces about the key guests of the wedding through their eyes (and sometimes it’s conflicting, which is interesting). The short chapters made it easy to read, too. I wasn’t surprised by who the victim turned out to be, but I didn’t see the murderer coming, so I was happy to be thrown off in that case. In the end, however, the connections between the people at the wedding (even though they were all at the same event) was a little too convenient. I couldn’t fully get on board with it.
The setting definitely played a large part in the book, but for some reason, even though it was described in detail, I had a hard time picturing it. That could be me and where my brain is right now, but if you asked me to set the scene, I probably couldn’t do it. I don’t know if the landscape was really necessary; I found it a bit distracting.
Readers of Agatha Christie who enjoy the “locked room” mystery genre where secrets play a large part of the story will really like The Guest List. I have not read it, but I’ve seen people compare it to And Then There Were None, which, considering how big Christie’s book are, can’t be a bad thing.
“But no matter what happens, life is only a series of days. You can’t control more than a single day. But you can control one of them. Twenty-four hours can be curated. A wedding day is a neat little parcel of time in which I can create something whole and perfect to be cherished for a lifetime, a pearl from a broken necklace.” —Lucy Foley, The Guest List
Thank you to Rory Hennessy on Unsplash for the featured photo of Ireland.