The Guest List by Lucy Foley
Publication date: 20 February 2020
Page count: 400 pages
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is a spoiler-free review.
I read and really enjoyed Lucy’s first novel, The Hunting Party, and was really excited to read more thrillers from her. There’s something about her ‘posh, awful people doing awful things and having awful things happen to them’ plots that I absolutely love — they’re so deliciously dark and compulsively readable.
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 favors, 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?
In many ways, The Guest List feels very much like The Hunting Party. You have a group of posh people coming together for an event, more secrets than you can shake a stick at, and a murder. And just like The Hunting Party, we don’t know who is murdered or who the culprit is until the very end. I really liked this format so I was pleased to see it used again so effectively.
There’s a wide cast of characters with multiple points of view. Between the wedding planner, the plus one, the best man, the bridesmaid, and the bride, the book felt incredibly well balanced in terms of the shifting POV, which is no easy feat. I really enjoyed the wide cast of characters — Foley has a real talent for creating interesting and well fleshed out characters that have interesting motivations.
The only real downside of this book is the ending. While I found it satisfying, there was just so much coincidence! It all became a little unbelievable toward the end. To me, the book unraveled a little in the last 10-15%, which is just a shame because thrillers really have to stick the landing. However, this is obviously down to personal preference so I wouldn’t let this deter you from picking up the book yourself.
The Guest List is another fun and compulsively readable thriller from Lucy Foley, perfect reading for a cold, winter evening.
CW: cutting, suicide and attempted suicide
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