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The Guest List by Lucy Foley - Review

Thursday, August 13, 2020



I got this book through Netgalley, so thank you so much to Harper Collins UK for granting me access to the book. I read The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley at the end of last year and enjoyed it, even though I felt every character was terrible and I had very little sympathy for any of them. So when this popped up on Netgalley I thought I would like to read it.

I posted the photo of the front cover on my instagram, like I do with all books I'm reading. My friend Janet, who has really similar taste in books to me, said "I enjoyed this mainly because I hated every character so much I was hoping they'd die 😂", which was exactly how I felt about The Hunting Party, so I felt this boded well for the book! 

It's set on a very remote island off the coast of Galway in Ireland, where everyone is arriving for the wedding of Jules and Will. The novel is told from the points of view of several guests at the wedding. Through them we see the day and night before, the day of the wedding itself, and then what happens at the reception. Interspersed are small parts where a body has been found at the reception, and the ushers go off to find the body and whoever else might be outside. 

Hannah is the first narrator. She's on the boat on the way over with her husband Charlie. He is Jules' best friend, her "best man", something which Hannah is quite jealous of. She and Charlie have their problems, but she's hoping to have a bit of a filthy weekend away to rejuvenate things. However, something happened to Charlie on the stag do, and his behaviour turns quite nasty throughout the book. 

The second narrator is Jules, the bride. She's the editor of a popular lifestyle magazine. She is quite a cold fish throughout the book, I struggled to warm to her or care what happened to her. She was brought up in a chaotic household by her actor mother Araminta, and is basically estranged from her dad, who is now on his fifth wife and has new small children. She also has a younger stepsister, Olivia, who got a better childhood and who Jules seems to hate. Everything has to be perfect for Jules; she's got a list of demands a mile long for her wedding planner, and no expense has been spared for the whole thing. 

Olivia is nineteen and has dropped out of uni because she's had a really bad time. She's still depressed and self-harming, and is struggling to care about the wedding. She confides in Hannah, who turns out to be a friend she desperately needs. I liked Olivia - I wanted her to succeed and I could imagine her character very well. 

Aoife is the wedding planner. She owns the remote island and has a family connection to it. She isn't featured very much but through her we see the guests at a more detached angle. I didn't dislike her, but I didn't particularly like her storyline, either. 

Finally is Johnno, Will's best man. The two of them went to a public school together in England and have been friends ever since. However, there are dark secrets there which neither Johnno nor Will want exposing. Johnno is a bit of a loser - he's lost yet another job and is trying to launch a bespoke whiskey business. However, things unravel quickly for him throughout the book.

Will is kind of famous - he does a survival show called Survive the Night and fancies himself as quite a survivalist. His ushers are also men he knew from school, and they are the absolute worst kind of posh boy that I love to hate and like to read about. They are all terrible humans and I could understand why all the women involved got very fed up with them. I could picture them perfectly. 

I did guess some of the twists throughout the book but this didn't diminish from my enjoyment of them. I didn't see others coming, which was good. I liked the ending and I loved the setting - I could imagine the wild Atlantic storm coming in very easily. I'm giving this four out of five as I found it really compelling to read. 

I will say that I find it strange how Foley's books are marketed - they're pure thrillers and that's fine, so I don't understand why they're marketed as if they're some kind of high brow literature. Sure, they may be a little more complex than some mass market thrillers, but it doesn't necessarily make them better. It's okay to read thrillers and just want a basic whodunnit! It's okay to write them, too! I think there's a lot of unnecessary snobbery around thrillers, and I feel like Foley's books like to think of themselves as a cut above, and I don't get it. I'm not blaming the author herself there at all, it's the marketing of course... but it's okay to just want to read and enjoy thrillers. Which these are. 

The Guest List was published on 20th February 2020. I was given a free electronic copy of the book for review purposes, but was not otherwise compensated for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

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