The Guest List by Lucy Foley
Published by HarperFiction on June 2, 2020 (originally published February 1, 2020)
Genre(s): fiction, mystery, suspense, thriller
Format & Length: hardcover, 313
Set on a remote island off the Irish coast, this is one guest list no one would want to be on, just as no one would have wanted an invitation to the New Year’s Eve party in Foley’s previous novel, The Hunting Party . Lives unravel amid the revelry on an eerie and remote island as family and friends assemble for a glam wedding in an updated Murder on the Orient Express. Each of the principal characters has a reason to want one of their number dead, there are old secrets, and one of them is murdered.
Lucy Foley’s books have been on my radar for a few years now but I hadn’t quite gotten around to picking one up until The Guest List showed up as a Book of the Month option for April. I selected it without hesitation and I’m SO glad that I did!
“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.”
Set on a remote island off the coast of Ireland, The Guest List is steeped in atmosphere from page one. It paints a vivid picture of rugged terrain set apart from the rest of the world by choppy seas and an incoming storm, and the sense of harsh isolation is palpable. It’s told from several perspectives, all of whom are associated with the wedding of an attractive and up and coming couple, from the wedding planner to the bride’s best friend’s plus one to the wedding planner and more. There is no rhyme or reason to the changing points of view and they alternate between the day before the wedding through the event until the denouement the following day. The lack of discernible pattern to the switching perspectives only adds to the tension and unease, leaving the reader in suspense as you really don’t know what will happen next.
Strong writing and incredible atmosphere are what sucked me in at first but the complex characters and plot pulled The Guest List together for a truly compelling story. The characters are varied, each with their own unique voice—which is quite a feat with so many narrators. The plot is well crafted as well, with perfectly executed twists and an explosive ending. With every new turn, I kept guessing at all the ways this story could go and was thrilled with the direction it ultimately took.
As if The Guest List wasn’t already the perfect book for my reading taste, it also had a tone reminiscent of Agatha Christie, strongly reminding me of one of my all time favorite books, And Then There Were None. It may have taken me a while to read something by Lucy Foley, but it won’t be nearly as long until I try another book by her. This is most definitely one of my favorite books of 2020!