I was first introduced to Lucy Foley’s writing last December. I sat with The Hunting Party and consumed the whole book in a day. I was enraptured; I could not for the life of me put it down. You know those kinds of books? Where if someone so much as dares to ask if you want a cup of tea you’re furious they interrupted you? Yup, that kind.
Because of that I was so excited to read her latest novel, The Guest List. I got it in hard back because I couldn’t wait, and that is something I rarely do. Oh boy, I was not disappointed. I finished the book about an hour ago, reading into the night, and I had to write the review now. (You’ll be seeing this a day later…).
Jules and Will are getting married on a remote, Irish Ireland. They seem like the perfect couple, and all their closest friends are making the slightly perilous journey for the wedding. But secrets and grudges and jealousies all tangle together and the result? A dead body.
At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like it as much as The Hunting Party (I know, I shouldn’t compare!). The style and plot seemed too similar, like another episode of Miss Marple – all the same ingredients but just different characters and setting.
I appreciated that the characters were introduced slower, each with their own chapter and a helpful ‘tag’ beneath their name, such as ‘The Groom’. It was much easier to remember who everyone was, as again there were lots of different characters and narrative perspectives going on, as well as shifts in timelines.
As I read on, I found I liked these characters immensely. They felt better drawn; they were more sympathetic and likable with intense, relatable and heart-breaking backstories. Those characters you were meant to hate? Well, job done. I hated them. But they weren’t pantomime villains, which perhaps made them even scarier. Most people know someone like them, hiding in plain sight. Foley has such an incredible way of creating characters. Her writing is style is simplistic and artful, drawing you into their heads so easily and masterfully.
With each chapter I was left on tenterhooks, some new mystery or cliff-hanger or revelation which meant I had to keep reading. Whilst there were a lot of mysteries and plot twists I didn’t see coming, there were a few I solved before the reveal. Whilst the ending was IMMENSELY satisfying (I may have shouted ‘yes!’ out loud…) I was not as shocked by it because I had worked my way there. I think after reading a novel of hers before you can see how her mind is working and guess a few. However, that did not put a dampener on the experience.
This is by far my favourite book I have read this year; go immerse yourself in a wedding you won’t forget in a hurry.