Book Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

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guest list 2  guest list 1

Publish Date: June 2, 2020

It’s all about the moment, a wedding. All about the day. It’s not really about the marriage at all, in spite of what everyone says. ” – The Guest List

Couple 2

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?

Couple 3

What’s not to love about a story of a romantic, glamorous, star-studded wedding on a beautiful island with a touch of mystery sprinkled in between?

Lucy Foley tells the tale of a murder mystery within a wedding, which takes place on Cormorant Island, off the coast of Ireland. The happy couple are the stunning Jules Keegan, digital magazine owner of The Download, and dashing Will Slater, a Bear Grylls-type star of a reality TV show.

Lucy Foley creates an atmospheric wedding venue on the island, and her detailed descriptions create an ominous vibe with a haunted backstory, treacherous terrain, craggy cliffs, dark secret island spots, and an approaching storm. The island is a central character in itself, and added an additional aura of mystery.

The story is told from a wide multitude of perspectives from diverse characters: the bride, groom, groomsmen, ushers, half sister, wedding planner… pretty much everyone. The reader is privy to the full story as each character shares their fears, secrets, and lies before and during the wedding weekend. The characters are well-developed, and this book is more of a character study where the development of the character(s) is more important than the plot.

The book was admittedly a pretty slow burn, and the multiple POVs were hard to track sometimes. But the story was engaging and secrets revealed at the end shook me.

My favorite quotes:

“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.”

“Love is what teenagers think has happened when actually they’re just stuffed full of hormones.”

“There are real dangers out here, the landscape unfamiliar and treacherous in the dark. They are only now beginning to realize it fully. To understand just how unprepared they are.”

“Adrenaline and willpower will carry me through: they’ll have to.”

“Marriage is about finding that person you know best in the world. Not how they take their coffee or what their favorite film is or the name of their first cat. It’s knowing a deeper level. It’s knowing their soul.”

This book is about secrets, lies, betrayal, murder, family, and marriage. It’s slower paced than I’m used to, but the plot builds nicely as the story progresses and the last 25% of the book is well worth the time it took to get there. This is my first read of Lucy Foley’s and definitely won’t be my last.

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars 3 Stars 1/2

Thanks to the Sacramento Public Library for access to this book.

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