This review is for The Guest List by Lucy Foley published in 2020 by William Morrow. It topped many lists for highly awarded books last year. I read this last year and enjoyed it quite a bit. Here’s a throwback review then! LOL. I’m sure many bookish people and those reading book reviews have seen this a thousand times before.
The book currently has 3.86 star average overall and I gave it 4 stars. I enjoyed this book because it followed a great formulaic outline for a “locked room” type of mystery on the island, featured a cool atmospheric setting, and had that “don’t want to put it down” characteristic.
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?
Summary: A flashy, ambitious woman and her semi-famous, handsome fiancée are set to marry on a remote Irish island. Switching between various POVs, the story of the wedding is told with foreshadowing of doom. I think of it more of a slow-burning suspense with sharing of secrets and motives, so you think, “Well, could be this person… or maybe that one…” but the whole time you’re building up: you don’t know who will get hurt (if anyone) and how / when / why.
Review: Possible spoilers ahead. I didn’t mind the slow burn (building up) because 1) I didn’t make too many assumptions or connections before the conclusion and 2) I enjoyed the writing style. The author uses modern language and references without being cheesy, which imo is a sign of good writing skills. A common complaint is that you don’t care about the characters — I agree, with exception of Hannah and Olivia, perhaps the most relatable. Yet, that’s not really the point: the point is someone is going to die, but who and why? And by whom? I thought it may end with supernatural / zombie haunting or something. It doesn’t, but it leans heavily on symbology.
The reader gets numerous povs (that seems to be the style of most books I’m reading nowadays) of guests, so you can see all the motives behind who will be the one X’d by the end. Each character has a secret, or they’re betrayed, jealous, broken, or fake.
SPOILER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Was I surprised by the killer? Yes actually. The touching of the grave made it seem like there was a deeper reason to it all, but it wasn’t who I was expecting. That’s why I kind of enjoyed the twist! Tbh the whole time I thought it was going to be Olivia who died. Perhaps this is why I rate this story highly: I didn’t know who was going to die and therefore was enticed to read the entire thing as quickly as possible.
Recommended for — Thriller, suspense fans. Fans of Ireland, modern lit, whodunit type of stories. Mentions of drugs, sex, cheating, murder, self harm.